Background: Nicotine is the major addictive component in tobacco, and despite well-established adverse health effects of tobacco addiction, some smokers have difficulty quitting. The acute cognitive enhancement and/or the amelioration of the cognitive disruption during withdrawal that some smokers experience after smoking are among important factors that hinder quit attempts. The animal model presented in the current study is comparable to the human smoking condition although nicotine intake routes are different. Rats were exposed to a free choice of oral nicotine starting at adolescence, and given a water maze (WM) task as adults. This design allowed us to see if rats alter their nicotine intake during the WM task and if nicotine preference and intake modify abilities and strategies rats use for problem solving.