Sildenafil (Viagra) is a selective inhibitor of phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), which degrades cyclic guanosine monophosphate to the linear nucleotide. Sildenafil is acutely used in erectile dysfunction and chronically in pulmonary hypertension. Evidence in the last decade shows that sildenafil may have potential as a therapeutic option for Alzheimer's disease or other neurodegenerative disorders. The purpose of this work was to explore whether sildenafil crosses the blood-brain barrier. Pharmacokinetic properties of sildenafil in rodents were investigated using (11) C-radiolabeling followed by in vivo positron emission tomography (PET) and ex vivo tissue dissection and gamma counting. PET results in rats suggest penetration into the central nervous system. Ex vivo data in perfused animals suggest that trapping of [(11) C]sildenafil within the cerebral vascular endothelium limits accumulation in the central nervous system parenchyma. Peroral sildenafil administration to Macaca fascicularis and subsequent chemical analysis of plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry showed that drug content in the CSF was high enough to achieve PDE5 inhibition, which was also demonstrated by the significant increases in CSF cyclic guanosine monophosphate levels. Central actions of sildenafil include both relaxation of the cerebral vasculature and inhibition of PDE5 in neurons and glia. This central action of sildenafil may underlie its efficacy in neuroprotection models, and may justify the continued search for a PDE5 ligand suitable for PET imaging. Sildenafil interacts with phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) expressed in the endothelium and/or smooth muscle cells of brain vessels and also crosses the blood-brain barrier to interact with PDE5 expressed in brain cells. At therapeutic doses, the concentration of sildenafil in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is high enough to inhibit PDE5 in the neural cells (neurons and glia). In turn, the concentration of cGMP likely increases in parenchymal cells and, as shown in this report, in the CSF. Read the Editorial Highlight for this article on page 220. Cover Image for this issue: doi: 10.1111/jnc.13302.