Cinnamomum cassia (Cinnamon) is a well-known traditional medicine with therapeutic benefits for centuries. We evaluated the effects of cinnamon essential oil (CEO) and its main component cinnamaldehyde (CA) on human corpus cavernosum (HCC) and rat CC. The essential oil of cinnamon was analyzed for the confirmation of the oil profile. HCC specimens from patients undergoing penile prosthesis surgery (age 48-69 years) were utilized for functional studies. In addition, erectile responses in anesthetized control and diabetic rats were evaluated in vivo after intracavernosal injection of CEO and CA, and rat CC strips were placed in organ baths. After precontraction with phenylephrine (10 mu M), relaxant responses to CEO and CA were investigated. CA (96.9%) was found as the major component. The maximum relaxation responses to CEO and CA were 96.4 +/- 3.5% and 96.0 +/- 5.0% in HCC and 97.5 +/- 5.5% and 96.8 +/- 4.8% in rat CC, respectively. There was no difference between control and diabetic rats in relaxation responses to CEO and CA. The relaxant responses obtained with essential oil and CA were not attenuated in the presence of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor, and soluble guanylate cyclase inhibitor (sGS) in CC. In vivo, erectile responses in diabetic rats were lower than in control rats, which was restored after intracavernosal injection of CEO and CA. CEO and CA improved erectile function and relaxation of isolated strips of rat CC and HCC by a NO/cGMP-independent mechanism. Further investigations are warranted to fully elucidate the restorative effects of CEO and CA on diabetic erectile dysfunction.