Supplemental damping is known as an efficient and practical means to improve seismic response of building structures. Presented in this paper is a mixed-integer programming approach to find the optimal placement of supplemental dampers in a given shear building model. The damping coefficients of dampers are treated as discrete design variables. It is shown that a minimization problem of the sum of the transfer function amplitudes of the interstory drifts can be formulated as a mixed-integer second-order cone programming problem. The global optimal solution of the optimization problem is then found by using a solver based on a branch-and-cut algorithm. Two numerical examples in literature are solved with discrete design variables. In one of these examples, the proposed method finds a better solution than an existing method in literature developed for the continuous optimal damper placement problem. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.