A number of studies in various species including man indicated a greater risk of drug preference and addictive behavior in young as compared to adults. Such age dependent preference was also found with nicotine. To examine possible mechanisms for this difference in our continuing study of reward mechanisms, we compared nicotine-induced neurotransmitter changes in the brain regions of adult and young Sprague-Dawley rats, assaying the transmitters via microdialysis in conscious freely moving animals. In general, nicotine-induced changes were significantly less in the regions measured in the young. Nicotine-induced effects on dopamine in the dorsal and ventral hippocampus (VH), prefrontal and medial temporal cortex, and superior cerebral peduncle were lower in the young than in adult, the same in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and lateral septal nucleus (LS), and somewhat higher in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAccS). Norepinephrine levels in the young were lower in all areas except in the VH where they were the same, and serotonin levels were lower except in the VTA and LS where they remained the same, and higher in the NAccS. Age-dependent differences in the metabolites measured were more mixed. We conclude that the greater nicotine preference in young is not paralleled by a greater effect of nicotine on the release of monoamines at least in most of the brain areas assayed. Thus, increases of nicotine reward are not likely due to increases of monoamines in reward and cognitive areas. The small increase of dopamine (DA) and more significant increase of serotonin (5-HT) only in the NAccS are of significance, and would indicate a more significant role of 5-HT than of DA at least in the age difference in nicotine preference. Developmental changes in receptor composition and distribution involving several transmitter systems and other components such as neuropeptides are also likely to play a role.