Nicotine dependence has been found to be a significant factor in adolescent smoking persistence. However, measures of this construct are primarily adult-derived, limiting their utility as bases for characterizing nicotine dependence and formulating youth intervention strategies. This issue is of particular importance among substance abusing youth who have substantially higher rates of cigarette smoking than do adolescents in the general population. The objectives of this preliminary study were to examine the construct validity of the DSM-IV nicotine dependence criteria and the modified Fagerström Tolerance Questionnaire (mFTQ) and to compare the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for nicotine dependence with the mFTQ in a sample of 67 adolescent smokers in treatment for substance abuse. Results revealed that more participants were classified as nicotine dependent using DSM-IV criteria than by mFTQ scores. Little evidence was found for construct validity of these measures and convergence between the two measures was low. Findings also suggested that the present measures do not capture optimally broad dimensions of adolescent nicotine dependence.