Nicotine, the major psychoactive component of cigarette smoke, modulates neuronal activity to produce Ca2+-dependent changes in gene transcription. However, the downstream targets that underlie the long-term effects of nicotine on neuronal function, and hence behaviour, remain to be elucidated. Here, we demonstrate that nicotine administration to mice upregulates levels of the type 2 ryanodine receptor (RyR2), a Ca2+-release channel present on the endoplasmic reticulum, in a number of brain areas associated with cognition and addiction, notably the cortex and ventral midbrain. Nicotine-mediated RyR2 upregulation was driven by CREB, and caused a long-lasting reinforcement of Ca2+ signalling via the process of Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release. RyR2 upregulation was itself required for long-term phosphorylation of CREB in a positive-feedback signalling loop. We further demonstrate that inhibition of RyR-activation in vivo abolishes sensitization to nicotine-induced habituated locomotion, a well-characterised model for onset of drug dependence. Our findings, therefore, indicate that gene-dependent reprogramming of Ca2+ signalling is involved in nicotine-induced behavioural changes.