Scoring functions are a critically important component of computer-aided screening methods for the identification of lead compounds during early stages of drug discovery. Here, we present a new multigrid implementation of the footprint similarity (FPS) scoring function that was recently developed in our laboratory which has proven useful for identification of compounds which bind to a protein on a per-residue basis in a way that resembles a known reference. The grid-based FPS method is much faster than its Cartesian-space counterpart, which makes it computationally tractable for on-the-fly docking, virtual screening, or de novo design. In this work, we establish that: (i) relatively few grids can be used to accurately approximate Cartesian space footprint similarity, (ii) the method yields improved success over the standard DOCK energy function for pose identification across a large test set of experimental co-crystal structures, for crossdocking, and for database enrichment, and (iii) grid-based FPS scoring can be used to tailor construction of new molecules to have specific properties, as demonstrated in a series of test cases targeting the viral protein HIVgp41. The method is available in the program DOCK6. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.