Advances in molecular biology and protein chemistry, along with increasing understanding of the mechanisms of penile erection, have spurred development of pharmacologic approaches to the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). The next generation of oral agents includes tadalafil, a potent, highly selective phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor. In vitro studies have shown that tadalafil enhances relaxation of trabecular smooth muscle, and clinical trials have supported its efficacy and tolerability in a broad population of men with ED. The effect of tadalafil in enhancing the erectile response to sexual stimulation is relatively rapid in onset and lasts for >or=24 hours. The ability of patients with ED treated with tadalafil to achieve improved erectile function is demonstrated by significantly increased subjective measures of penetration ability, successful intercourse, and sexual satisfaction. Partners have expressed similar or higher levels of satisfaction with the results of treatment. Men with ED of psychogenic, organic, or mixed etiology and in a range from mild to severe have experienced significant improvment with tadalafil treatment. Response to treatment in men with diabetes has been robust and not affected by disease severity. Tadalafil has been well tolerated. Adverse events have generally been mild or moderate and have abated with continued treatment. Headache and dyspepsia have been most frequently reported. Changes in color vision have been rare (<0.1%) with tadalafil across all clinical trials. Tadalafil appears to be a safe and effective treatment for men with ED.