INTRODUCTION Despite the large amount that is known about the physical health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) exposure, little is known about the behavioral health effects. Nicotine, the principle psychoactive substance in SHS, elicits subjective mood and physiological responses in nonsmokers. However, no studies have examined the subjective mood or physiological responses to nicotine in nonsmokers while accounting for prior chronic or acute SHS exposure. METHODS A 7-mg nicotine patch was administered to 17 adult nonsmokers for 2 hr. Main outcome measures obtained at ½ hr, 1 hr, and 2 hr were subjective behavioral drug effects (based on eleven 10-cm Visual Analog Scales [VASs]) and the physiological measures of heart rate, blood pressure, and serum nicotine levels. Analysis of outcome data was based on participants' chronic (using hair nicotine) or acute (using saliva cotinine) SHS exposure. RESULTS Greater chronic SHS exposure was negatively associated with pleasurable responses to nicotine administration ("drug feels good" score at 2-hr time point, Spearman's ρ = -.65, p < .004), whereas greater acute SHS exposure was associated with positive responses ("like feeling of drug" score at 2-hr time point, Spearman's ρ = .63, p < .01). There were no associations between chronic or acute exposure and physiological changes in response to nicotine administration. DISCUSSION The findings of this study may be useful in providing preliminary empirical data for future explorations of the mechanism whereby SHS exposure can influence behavioral outcomes in nonsmokers. Such studies can inform future interventions to reduce the physical and behavioral health risks associated with SHS exposure.