Background: Nicotine exerts its central actions through nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), which in turn regulate major neurotransmitter systems including dopamine. Nicotinic and dopaminergic systems play significant roles in physiological functions, neuropsychiatric disorders, and addiction. Objectives: To evaluate possible differences in the expression of nAChR subunit and dopamine receptor (DR) mRNAs following voluntary nicotine intake. Methods: Male and female rats (n = 67) were exposed to long-term free-choice oral nicotine (24 hours/day, 6 weeks); rats with maximum and minimum nicotine preference/intake were selected. The mRNA levels of genes encoding a4,2,a5, and a7 nAChR subunits and DR Drd1and Drd2 subtypes were evaluated in the striatum (STR), prefrontal cortex (PFC), and hippocampus using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in selected rats (n = 30) and their control groups (n = 15). Results: In addition to baseline differences, expression changes were observed in the mRNA levels of evaluated genes in rats exposed to voluntary oral nicotine in a brain region-, sex-, and preference-related manner. Nicotine intake is correlated negatively with Chrnb2, Chrna7 and positively with Drd1 expression. In the cholinergic system, regional differences in Chnrb2 and Chrna5, sex differences in Chrna4 and Chrna5, and nicotine preference effects in the expression of all subunits except a4 were observed. Chrna5 was lower in maximum than in minimum preferring, and in male than female rats, supporting the inhibitory role of the a5 subunit in nicotine dependence. Nicotine increased Drd2 mRNA expression only in minimum preferring female rats in STR and PFC. Conclusion: Modulation of nAChR and DR gene expression by nicotine may have clinical implications and aid drug development. Pharmaceuticals targeting the nicotinic cholinergic and dopaminergic systems might be expected to have differential efficacy that varies with the patient's sex or smoking status.