Among the human population, 15% of drug users develop a pathological drug addiction. This figure increases substantially with nicotine, whereby more than 30% of those who try smoking develop a nicotine addiction. Drug addiction is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and drug-taking behaviors (craving), and loss of control over intake despite impairment in health, social, and occupational functions. This behavior can be accurately modeled in the rat using an intravenous self-administration (IVSA) paradigm. Initial attempts at establishing nicotine self-administration had been problematic, yet in recent times increasingly reliable models of nicotine self-administration have been developed. The present article reviews different characteristics of the nicotine IVSA model that has been developed to examine nicotine reinforcing and motivational properties in rats.