Cells within an organism are occasionally exposed to either intracellular or environmental stress. Such stress often has genotoxic potential that enhances the probability of cancer. Two gene families, the p53 family (p53, p63 and p73) and the Mdm2 family (Mdm2 and MdmX), serve as major integrators of the signals generated by genotoxic and oncogenic stress. Their co-ordinated modulation ensures an optimal response to stress and decreases the likelihood of cancer. Work over the past year has provided better understanding of the p53-Mdm2 module that lies in the heart of this regulatory network, and of the intricate interplay between the various members of the network.