Sildenafil citrate is the first oral phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The wide use of sildenafil by patients with erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease has resulted in a considerable number of independent studies investigating the cardiovascular safety and functional role of the phosphodiesterase type 5-cyclic guanosine monophosphate-nitric oxide pathway in the cardiovascular system. Endothelial dysfunction, defined as a reduction in the bioavailability of nitric oxide, is associated with many of the common risk factors for cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil has been demonstrated to improve the vasomotor aspect of endothelial dysfunction in patients with heart failure and diabetes. Hemodynamic studies suggest that sildenafil is a modest vasodilator with the potential to increase coronary blood flow and coronary flow reserve. In patients with ischemic heart disease, sildenafil is associated with reductions in mean arterial and pulmonary pressure with little effect on heart rate, cardiac output, and systemic or pulmonary vascular resistance. The absence of an effect on cardiac output supports the lack of an inotropic effect of sildenafil. This is consistent with the finding that sildenafil has no effect on cyclic adenosine monophosphate levels in the vasculature. Finally, exciting reports have emerged from clinical experience with the use of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors in patients with pulmonary hypertension.