Sepsis is a systemic inflammatory response to infection and a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Sildenafil (SLD) is a selective and potent inhibitor of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-specific phosphodiesterase PDE5. We aimed to investigate the protective effects of sildenafil on caecal ligation and puncture (CLP)-induced sepsis in rats. Four groups of rats were used, each composed of 10 rats: (i) 10 mg/kg SLD-treated CLP group; (ii) 20 mg/kg SLD-treated CLP group; (iii) CLP group; and (iv) sham-operated control group. A CLP polymicrobial sepsis model was applied to the rats. All groups were killed 16 h later, and lung, kidney and blood samples were analysed histopathologically and biochemically. Sildenafil increased glutathione (GSH) and decreased the activation of myeloperoxidase (MPO) and of lipid peroxidase (LPO) and levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the septic rats. We observed a significant decrease in LPO and MPO and a decrease in SOD activity in the sildenafil-treated CLP rats compared with the sham group. In addition, 20 mg/kg sildenafil treatment in the sham-operated rats improved the biochemical status of lungs and kidneys. Histopathological analysis revealed significant differences in inflammation scores between the sepsis group and the other groups, except the CLP + sildenafil 10 mg/kg group. The CLP + sildenafil 20 mg/kg group had the lowest inflammation score. Sildenafil treatment decreased the serum tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha level when compared to the CLP group. Our results indicate that sildenafil is a highly protective agent in preventing lung and kidney damage caused by CLP-induced sepsis via maintenance of the oxidant-anti-oxidant status and decrease in the level of TNF-alpha.