We sought to assess potency preservation after three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) in prostate cancer patients eligible for radical prostatectomy, conventional radiotherapy, 3D-CRT, or transperineal prostate implantation. Patients with more advanced disease are commonly treated with hormonal therapy, which can cause impotence, and were consequently excluded from the analysis. Between December 1991 and June 1998, 198 prostate cancer patients were treated with 3D-CRT at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. Fifty-two of these patients had a pretreatment prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of 10.0 ng/ml or less, a Gleason score of 6 or less, and a 1997 AJCC clinical stage T1bN0M0 to T2bN0M0. One patient was not evaluable. None of the 51 evaluable patients had diabetes mellitus. In 40 patients, the prostate gland only was irradiated to a total dose of 66 to 79.2 Gy by using daily 1.8-Gy fractions. In 11 patients, the prostate and seminal vesicles were treated to 44 to 55.8 Gy. Lymph nodes were not included in the clinical target volume. The median age was 68 years, and the median length of follow-up was 15 months. Potency in this study is defined as an erection sufficient for vaginal penetration. Kaplan–Meier analysis was used to describe potency as a function of time after 3D-CRT. Of the 51 evaluable patients, 35 (69%) were potent, 15 were impotent, and 1 was sexually inactive before 3D-CRT. Kaplan–Meier estimates of the potency preservation rates 1, 2, and 3 years after 3D-CRT are 100%, 83%, and 63%, respectively. On multivariate analysis, age, total radiation dose, and a history of transurethral resection of the prostate did not significantly affect potency preservation rates. Three (43%) of 7 patients who became impotent after 3D-CRT and used sildenafil were subsequently able to achieve erections sufficient for vaginal penetration. The preliminary results reported herein suggest that approximately two thirds of prostate cancer patients will retain their potency 3 years after 3D-CRT. Further follow-up is necessary to assess long-term potency after 3D-CRT. Sildenafil should be considered in patients who develop radiation-induced impotence.