The really interesting genes (RING)-finger-containing oncoprotein, Mdm2, is a promising drug target for cancer therapy. A key Mdm2 function is to promote ubiquitylation and proteasomal-dependent degradation of the tumor suppressor protein p53. Recent reports provide novel important insights into Mdm2-mediated regulation of p53 and how the physical and functional interactions between these two proteins are regulated. Moreover, a p53-independent role of Mdm2 has recently been confirmed by genetic data. These advances and their potential implications for the development of new cancer therapeutic strategies form the focus of this review.