The objectives of this study were to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of high dose sildenafil as a salvage therapy for patients refractory to the maximum recommended dose of sildenafil. Fifty four fully evaluated patients with chronic erectile failure (ED) who had previously failed to respond to a home trial of sildenafil (100 mg) with erections suitable for sexual intercourse were studied. Each man was treated at home with sildenafil at escalating doses of up to 200 mg until either maximal response or intolerable adverse effects occurred. Erectile function was quantified using the erectile function domain of the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) before treatment, with sildenafil 100 mg and with maximal dose of sildenafil and a global efficacy question after 4 weeks of treatment. The mean age of the study group was 59.6+/-11.2 y. 13/54 (24%) had arteriogenic ED, 16/54 (30%) had mixed vasculogenic ED, 9/54 (17%) had cavernosal veno-occlusive dysfunction, 11/54 (20%) had post radical retropubic prostatectomy ED and 5/54 (9%) had psychogenic ED. 13/54 (24.1%) responded to sildenafil at a median maximal dose of 200 mg, 4/13 required 150 mg and 9/13 required 200 mg. 41/54 (76%) failed to respond to sildenafil. Mean IIEF question 3 and 4 scores were 1.5 and 1.4 at baseline, 2.2 and 1.9 with sildenafil 100 mg, 2.8 and 2.5 with sildenafil 150 mg and 3.0 and 2.9 with sildenafil 200 mg, respectively. After 4 weeks, treatment was regarded as having improved their erections by 37%, 46.3% and 68% of patients with sildenafil 100 mg, 150 mg and 200 mg, respectively. 34/54 (63%) reported adverse effects with maximal dose sildenafil comprising headache (19), facial flushing (32), dyspepsia (14), nasal congestion (11), dizziness (5) and visual disturbances (5). 4/13 (31%) responders refused to continue treatment due to adverse effects.In conclusion, sildenafil at doses of up to 200 mg is an effective salvage therapy for 24.1% of previous sildenafil non-responders but is limited by a significantly higher incidence of adverse effects and a 31% treatment discontinuation rate.