Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects up to 50% of men between the ages of 40 and 70 years of age. Sildenafil, vardenafil and tadalafil have all been shown to be similarly effective in the treatment of men with ED of vary etiologies, to have similar adverse effects profiles, and to improve quality-of-life by similar amounts. As these phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors all increase the hypotensive effects of nitrates, they are not suitable for use in patients taking nitrates for the treatment of ischaemic heart disease. All three inhibitors must be used with caution in patients taking alpha(1)-adrenoceptors antagonists for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Although nonarteritic anterior ischaemic neuropathy has been reported in some users of the PDE5 inhibitors, there is no conclusive evidence that PDE5 inhibitors cause this rare effect. Tadalafil has a longer half-life than sildenafil or vardenafil, and a longer duration of action than sildenafil and vardenafil. Most preference studies have shown tadalafil to be preferred, but there are serious limitations to some of these studies. One approach to treatment is to give each patient a short- and long-acting agent, and for individuals to decide their preference.