Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the consistent or recurrent inability of a man to attain and/or maintain a penile erection sufficient for sexual activity (2nd International Consultation on Sexual Dysfunction-Paris, June 28th–July 1st, 2003). Following the discovery and introduction of sildenafil, research on the mechanisms underlying penile erection has had an enormous boost and many preclinical and clinical papers have been published in the last 5 years. This review is structured in order to give the reader an overview of the clinical and preclinical data available on the peripheral regulation of and the mediators involved in human penile erection. The most widely accepted risk factors for ED are discussed. The article is focused on human data, and the safety and effectiveness of the 3 commercially available Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors used to treat ED are also discussed.