Drug resistance significantly impairs the efficacy of AIDS therapy. Therefore, precise prediction of resistant viral mutants is particularly useful for developing effective drugs and designing therapeutic regimen. In this study, we applied a structure-based computational approach to predict mutants of the HIV-1 protease resistant to the seven FDA approved drugs. We analyzed the energetic pattern of the protease-drug interaction by calculating the molecular interaction energy components (MIECs) between the drug and the protease residues. Support vector machines (SVMs) were trained on MIECs to classify protease mutants into resistant and nonresistant categories. The high prediction accuracies for the test sets of cross-validations suggested that the MIECs successfully characterized the interaction interface between drugs and the HIV-1 protease. We conducted a proof-of-concept study on a newly approved drug, darunavir (TMC114), on which no drug resistance data were available in the public domain. Compared with amprenavir, our analysis suggested that darunavir might be more potent to combat drug resistance. To quantitatively estimate binding affinities of drugs and study the contributions of protease residues to causing resistance, linear regression models were trained on MIECs using partial least squares (PLS). The MIEC-PLS models also achieved satisfactory prediction accuracy. Analysis of the fitting coefficients of MIECs in the regression model revealed the important resistance mutations and shed light into understanding the mechanisms of these mutations to cause resistance. Our study demonstrated the advantages of characterizing the protease-drug interaction using MIECs. We believe that MIEC-SVM and MIEC-PLS can help design new agents or combination of therapeutic regimens to counter HIV-1 protease resistant strains. Proteins 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.