Tobacco smoking or nicotine administration on its own can influence cognitive task performance. This study examined the effects of acute nicotine administration on verbal task performance and a physiological index of arousal. Healthy non-smoking participants received either a 2-mg sublingual nicotine tablet or placebo. Participants next completed various verbal tasks while heart rate recordings were taken concurrently. Nicotine increased heart rate relative to a pre-administration baseline period, indicating that the new method of nicotine administration increased cardiovascular arousal. Nicotine was associated with reduced accuracy in a verbal matching task and reduced accuracy and increased reaction time in an anagram task, but had no effect on performance during an analogy or verbal fluency task. The data suggest that nicotine-naive individuals are unlikely to gain any benefit to their verbal ability from the single acute intake of nicotine, such as that obtained from cigarette smoking or by using nicotine replacement therapy products.