The increasing diversity of small molecule libraries has been an important source for the development of new drugs and, more recently, for unraveling the mechanisms of cellular events-a process termed chemical genetics.(1) Unfortunately, the majority of currently available compounds are mechanism-based enzyme inhibitors, whereas most of cellular activity regulation proceeds on the level of protein-protein interactions. Hence, the development of small molecule inhibitors of protein-protein interactions is important. When screening compound libraries, low-micromolar inhibitors of protein interactions can be routinely found. The enhancement of affinities and rationalization of the binding mechanism require structural information about the protein-ligand complexes. Crystallization of low-affinity complexes is difficult, and their NMR analysis suffers from exchange broadening, which limits the number of obtainable intermolecular constraints. Here we present a novel method of ligand validation and optimization, which is based on the combination of structural and computational approaches. We successfully used this method to analyze the basis for structure-activity relationships of previously selected (2) small molecule inhibitors of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL and identified new members of this inhibitor family.