We investigated whether Cd2+ intake (in drinking water, 15 ppm) for 30 days can affect the nitrergic relaxations of the mouse corpus cavernosum (CC) and whether Zn2+ (25 mg kg(-1) via a stomach tube at 48-h intervals) or sodium selenate (8 mu g kg(-1) day(-1) intraperitoneally) has a restorative action on the impairment in the response. Relaxant responses of the CC obtained from Cd2+-treated mice to electrical field stimulation (neurogenic) or acetylcholine (endothelium dependent) were significantly inhibited. A partial restoration was observed in the nitrergic relaxation of the CC obtained from Zn2+- or sodium selenate-co-treated animals. Neither agent exhibited any significant action on the responses of the tissue from control mice. There was no significant difference between Cd2+-treated and control mice in respect of the relaxation amplitude induced by sodium nitroprusside or papaverine. These results suggest that Cd2+ intake may impair the nitrergic relaxation of the mouse CC, and, co-treatment with Zn2+ or sodium selenate may partially improve the nitrergic mechanisms in the tissue. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.