The propagation of oesophageal peristaltic contractions and lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) relaxation depends on neural release of nitric oxide (NO) which acts to increase intracellular cGMP. Sildenafil, a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor that increases cGMP, reduces basal LOS pressure in patients with achalasia. We investigated the effect of sildenafil on the propagation of oesophageal contractions and LOS relaxation in the cat. Oesophageal manometry was performed in five cats under light sedation. Peristaltic contractions were monitored at 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 cm proximal to the LOS, at the LOS using a Dent sleeve, and at 3 cm distal to the upper oesophageal sphincter. Swallow-induced oesophageal contractions and LOS relaxation were recorded during 30 min before and 30 min after intravenous administration of sildenafil. Sildenafil reduced the amplitude of oesophageal contractions only in the smooth muscle oesophagus. The latency from swallow to distal oesophageal contractions was significantly delayed. LOS pressure was significantly reduced but the relaxation nadir was not modified by sildenafil. Sildenafil has profound effects on oesophageal motility: it modifies propagation and amplitude of oesophageal contractions and reduces LOS pressure. Slowing down the propagation of contractions in the transitional zone between the striated and smooth muscle can be a useful tool in patients with segmental aperistalsis or intermittent simultaneous contractions, while the effect on the LOS can benefit patients with achalasia.