Thirty-eight men aged 26-69 years (mean 58) who failed to achieve a full,sustained erection with intracavernosal injections of papaverine and phentolamine(PIPE) and who had evidence of a venous leak on digital subtraction dynamic cavernosography underwent penile vein ligation. Postoperative follow-up ranged from 7 to 44 months (mean 28). Nineteen patients regained spontaneous erections which would allow intercourse (mean follow-up on these men was 23 months). Of these 19 patients, 5 experienced recurrent loss of potency over a 6- to 17-month period (mean 9 months), 4 of these subsequently responding to intracavernosal therapy. Of the 19 without full erections after ligation, 8 obtained erections which would allow intercourse with intracavernosal injections. Two of these patients subsequently lost their response to injections at 2 and 6 months postoperatively. Eleven men had no benefit from surgery (either with or without injections). Of the total of 27 men with erections allowing intercourse, only 19 made an attempted coitus during the follow-up period. Of 9 men with treatment failure who had undergone repeat cavernosography,8 had evidence of a persistent leak, usually arising from the cavernosal veins. At the time of this study, 4 men had been re-explored, following which 3 obtained erections with the aid of PIPE. Patients who fail to improve following ligation may benefit from re-investigation and repeat ligation using a different surgical approach.