Background: The hypothalamus harbors high levels of cholinergic neurons and axon terminals. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which play an important role in cholinergic neurotransmission, are expressed abundantly in the hypothalamus. Accumulating evidence reveals a regulatory role for nicotine in the regulation of the stress responses. The present review will discuss the hypothalamic neuropeptides and their interaction with the nicotinic cholinergic system. The anatomical distribution of the cholinergic neurons, axon terminals and nicotinic receptors in discrete hypothalamic nuclei will be described. The effect of nicotinic cholinergic neurotransmission and nicotine exposure on hypothalamic- pituitaryadrenal (HPA) axis regulation at the hypothalamic level will be analyzed in view of the different neuropeptides involved.