The oncogene mdm2 and its human homologue hdm2 bind to the tumour suppressor protein p53 and inactivate its function as a transcription factor. This has been implied as a possible mechanism for cancer development in several tumours including human sarcomas. The mdm2-p53 interaction is therefore a much persued target for the development of anti-cancer drugs. In order to find novel high affinity ligands for hdm2 which would interfere with its binding to p53 we screened phage display peptide libraries for mdm2 binding phage. We found a series of 12 and 15mer peptides which interact strongly with hdm2. The peptide sequences show striking homology with the previously established mdm2 binding site on p53, confirming that the peptide defined 18TFSDLW23 region is crucial for the interaction but that contact between the two molecules extends to position L26 on p53. Free synthetic peptides derived from the phage selected sequences proved to be up to 100 times stronger inhibitors of the p53-mdm2 interaction than the p53 derived wt-peptide in several ELISA-assays. This illustrates the potency of phage display libraries in the search for new peptide based lead structures designed to mimic or inhibit therapeutically important protein-protein interactions.