AIM In this study, the effects of cigarette smoking on maximal aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, and heart rate variability among female university students were investigated. MATERIALS AND METHODS Twelve smokers and 21 nonsmokers participated in this study. All participants performed an intermittent sprint test (IST) and a 20 m shuttle run test to measure their anaerobic capacity and maximal aerobic capacity. The IST was comprised of 6 × 10-second sprints with a 60-second active recovery between each sprint. Heart rate variability was recorded while the participants were in a supine position 20 minutes before and 30 minutes after the IST. RESULTS The total work, peak power, and heart rate of the smokers and nonsmokers did not differ significantly. However, the smokers' average power declined significantly during sprints 4 to 6 (smokers versus nonsmokers, respectively: 95% confidence interval =6.2-7.2 joule/kg versus 6.8-7.6 joule/kg; P<0.05), and their fatigue index increased (smokers versus nonsmokers, respectively: 35.8% ± 2.3% versus 24.5% ± 1.76%; P<0.05) during the IST. The maximal oxygen uptake of nonsmokers was significantly higher than that of the smokers (P<0.05). The standard deviation of the normal to normal intervals and the root mean square successive difference did not differ significantly between nonsmokers and smokers. However, the nonsmokers exhibited a significantly higher normalized high frequency (HF), and significantly lower normalized low frequency (LF), LF/HF ratio, and natural logarithm of the LF/HF when compared with those of the smokers (P<0.05). CONCLUSION Smoking may increase female smokers' exercise fatigue and decrease their average performance during an IST, while reducing their maximal aerobic capacity. Furthermore, smoking reduces parasympathetic nerve activity and activates sympathetic cardiac control.