The Questionnaire of Smoking Urges (QSU) was designed to measure cravings elicited by abstinence from cigarette smoking. In the present study, the sensitivity of the QSU both to brief periods of abstinence and to exposure to smoking-related cues was investigated. A progressive ratio (PR) operant procedure was also employed, in which behaviour was maintained either by primary reinforcement (puffs on a cigarette) or by secondary reinforcement (tokens exchanged later for puffs on a cigarette) in separate experiments. Dependent smokers, who were not abstinent or who were abstinent for either 2 or 4 h, were tested in both a cue-rich and a no-cue environment. The results indicated that the QSU was sensitive both to brief periods of abstinence and to exposure to smoking-related cues, but the effect of smoking-related cues on QSU scores was maximal in non-abstinent smokers. In contrast, neither abstinence nor exposure to smoking-related cues significantly influenced the number of reinforcers earned, or the number of responses made, in either PR task. However, there was a significant interaction between gender and degree of abstinence on PR performance under primary reinforcement, and correlations between PR and QSU measures that were dependent on a complex interaction between the presence/absence of smoking-related cues and the type of reinforcer used. These results suggest that the QSU is sensitive to subtle influences on subjective urges to smoke in dependent smokers and, although PR measures are relatively insensitive to these influences, there is some evidence that PR performance is related to subjective measures of the urge to smoke.