Epidemiological evidence showed that chronic ethanol consumption is a major risk factor in the development of impotence. The present study investigated the effects of carbachol-, electrical field stimulation (EFS)-, sodium nitroprusside (SNP)- and papaverine-induced relaxant responses in the isolated corpus cavernosum tissues from rabbits submitted to an 12-week course of chronic low (5% v/v) or high ethanol intake (30% v/v). Increased carbachol- and EFS-induced relaxant responses but not SNP and papaverine, were observed in low ethanol-fed rabbits compared with controls. However, impaired carbachol- and EFS-induced relaxant responses were observed in high ethanol-fed rabbits compared with control rabbits. There were no significant differences in SNP- and papaverine-induced relaxant responses between control and high ethanol-fed rabbits. In addition, decreased neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and endothelial NOS (eNOS) immunoreactivity in penile tissue were found in high ethanol-fed rabbits, but increased the immunoreactivity in low ethanol-fed group, compared with control group. These results suggest that alterations in nitric oxide (NO) production within the cavernous tissue in the high ethanol-fed rabbits are, at least in part, responsible for the erectile dysfunction.