Spatial neglect is a neurological condition characterized by a breakdown of spatial cognition contralateral to hemispheric damage. Deficits in spatial attention toward the contralesional side are considered to be central to this syndrome. Brain lesions typically involve right fronto-parietal cortices mediating attentional functions and subcortical connections in underlying white matter. Convergent findings from neuroimaging and behavioral studies in both animals and humans suggest that the cholinergic system might also be critically implicated in selective attention by modulating cortical function via widespread projections from the basal forebrain. Here we asked whether deficits in spatial attention associated with neglect could partly result from a cholinergic deafferentation of cortical areas subserving attentional functions, and whether such disturbances could be alleviated by pro-cholinergic therapy. We examined the effect of a single-dose transdermal nicotine treatment on spatial neglect in 10 stroke patients in a double-blind placebo-controlled protocol, using a standardized battery of neglect tests. Nicotine-induced systematic improvement on cancellation tasks and facilitated orienting to single visual targets, but had no significant effect on other tests. These results support a global effect of nicotine on attention and arousal, but no effect on other spatial mechanisms impaired in neglect.