To determine the structures of protein–protein interactions, protein docking is a valuable tool that complements experimental methods to characterize protein complexes. Although protein docking can often produce a near-native solution within a set of global docking predictions, there are sometimes predictions that require refinement to elucidate correct contacts and conformation. Previously, we developed the ZRANK algorithm to rerank initial docking predictions from ZDOCK, a docking program developed by our lab. In this study, we have applied the ZRANK algorithm toward refinement of protein docking models in conjunction with the protein docking program RosettaDock. This was performed by reranking global docking predictions from ZDOCK, performing local side chain and rigid-body refinement using RosettaDock, and selecting the refined model based on ZRANK score. For comparison, we examined using RosettaDock score instead of ZRANK score, and a larger perturbation size for the RosettaDock search, and determined that the larger RosettaDock perturbation size with ZRANK scoring was optimal. This method was validated on a protein–protein docking benchmark. For refining docking benchmark predictions from the newest ZDOCK version, this led to improved structures of top-ranked hits in 20 of 27 cases, and an increase from 23 to 27 cases with hits in the top 20 predictions. Finally, we optimized the ZRANK energy function using refined models, which provides a significant improvement over the original ZRANK energy function. Using this optimized function and the refinement protocol, the numbers of cases with hits ranked at number one increased from 12 to 19 and from 7 to 15 for two different ZDOCK versions. This shows the effective combination of independently developed docking protocols (ZDOCK/ZRANK, and RosettaDock), indicating that using diverse search and scoring functions can improve protein docking results. Proteins 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.