We, studied the effect of vitamin E and sodium selenate treatment on the neurogenic and endothelium-dependent relaxation of isolated corpus cavernosum obtained from streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Relaxant responses of corpus cavernosum precontracted by phenylephrine to electrical field stimulation and to acetylcholine were significantly decreased in diabetic mice. There was no significant difference between diabetic and non-diabetic groups for the relaxant response of corpus cavernosum to sodium nitroprusside and papaverine. Treatment with sodium selenate, but not vitamin E, partially prevented the impairment of the neurogenic relaxation, whereas both had a significant, partial restorative action on endothelial dysfunction in corpus cavernosum obtained from diabetic groups. Neither agent exhibited a significant action on the relaxant responses of corpus cavernosum obtained from non-diabetic mice. A decrease in the sensitivity of the neurogenic impairment to antioxidant action may develop more rapidly than that of endothelial dysfunction in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.