PURPOSE: To investigate the effect of sildenafil citrate (SC) on skeletal muscle ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury in rats. METHODS: Adult male Wistar rats were randomized into three groups: vehicle-treated control (CTG), sildenafil citrate-treated (SCG), and sham group (SG). CTG and SCG had femoral artery occluded for 6 hours. Saline or 1 mg/kg of SC was given 5.5 hours after occlusion. SG had a similar procedure without artery occlusion. Soleus muscle samples were acquired 4 or 24h after the reperfusion. Immunohistochemistry caspase-3 analysis was used to estimate apoptosis using the apoptotic ratio (computed as positive/negative cells). Wilcoxon rank-sum or Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to assess differences among groups. RESULTS: Eighteen animals were included in the 4h reperfusion groups and 21 animals in the 24h reperfusion groups. The mean apoptotic ratio was 0.18±0.1 for the total cohort; 0.14±0.06 for the 4h reperfusion groups and 0.19±0.08 for the 24h groups (p<0.05). The SCG had lower caspase-3 ratio compared to the control groups at the 24h reperfusion time point (p<0.05). CONCLUSION: Sildenafil citrate administration after the onset of the ischemic injury reduces IR-induced cellular damage in skeletal muscle in this rat hindlimb ischemia model.