Nicotine underlies the reinforcing properties of tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes. After inhalation and absorption, nicotine binds to various nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes localized on the pre- and postsynaptic membranes of cells, which subsequently leads to the modulation of cellular function and neurotransmitter signaling. In this chapter, we begin by briefly reviewing the current understanding of nicotine’s actions on nAChRs and highlight considerations regarding nAChR subtype localization and pharmacodynamics. Thereafter, we discuss the seminal discoveries derived from genetically modified mouse models, which have greatly contributed to our understanding of nicotine’s effects on the reward-related mesolimbic pathway and the aversion-related habenulo-interpeduncular pathway. Thereafter, emerging areas of research focusing on modulation of nAChR expression and/or function are considered. Taken together, these discoveries have provided a foundational understanding of various genetic, neurobiological, and behavioral factors underlying the motivation to use nicotine and related dependence processes, which are thereby advancing drug discovery efforts to promote long-term abstinence.