The p53 tumor suppressor plays a key role in maintaining genomic stability and protection against malignant transformation. MDM2 and MDMX are both p53-binding proteins that regulate p53 stability and activity. Recent development of the MDM2 inhibitor Nutlin 3 has greatly facilitated functional analysis of MDM2-p53 binding. We found that although MDMX is homologous to MDM2 and binds to the same region on p53 N terminus, Nutlin does not disrupt p53-MDMX interaction. The ability of Nutlin to activate p53 is compromised in tumor cells overexpressing MDMX. Combination of Nutlin with MDMX siRNA resulted in synergistic activation of p53 and growth arrest. These results suggest that MDMX is also a valid target for p53 activation in tumor cells. Development of novel compounds that are MDMX-specific or optimized for dual-inhibition of MDM2 and MDMX are necessary to achieve full activation of p53 in tumor cells.