Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects up to 50% of men, between 40 and 70 years of age. In the first major trial of sildenafil in ED, at 24 weeks, improved erections were reported by 77 and 84% of men taking sildenafil 50 and 100mg, respectively. Subsequently, sildenafil has been reported to be effective in men with ED associated with diabetes and prostate cancer, and in psychogenic ED. Sildenafil is safe in men with coronary artery disease, provided it is not used with the nitrates (a contraindication). The most commonly reported adverse effects with sildenafil are headache, flushing and dyspepsia. Vardenafil is more potent and more selective than sildenafil at inhibiting phosphodiesterase-5. Vardenafil is similarly effective to sildenafil in the treatment of ED. The only advantage that vardenafil has over sildenafil is that it does not inhibit phosphodiesterase-6 to alter colour perception, a rare side effect which sometimes occurs with sildenafil. Tadalafil has a longer duration of action than sildenafil and vardenafil. Tadalafil is similarly effective as sildenafil in the treatment of ED. In comparison studies, tadalafil is preferred to sildenafil (50/100mg) by men with ED, possibly because of its longer duration of action. Of the phosphodiesterase inhibitors, tadalafil may displace sildenafil as the drug of choice among men with ED.