A hierarchical approach has been developed for protein-protein docking. In the first step, a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT)-based docking algorithm is used to globally sample all putative binding modes, in which the protein is represented by a reduced model, that is, each side chain on the protein surface is represented by its center of mass. Compared to conventional FFT docking with all-atom models, the FFT docking method with a reduced model is expected to generate more hits because it allows larger side-chain flexibility. Next, the filtered binding modes (normally several thousands) are refined by an iteratively derived knowledge-based scoring function ITScorePP and by considering backbone/loop flexibility using an ensemble docking algorithm. The distance-dependent potentials of ITScorePP were extracted by a physics-based iterative method, which circumvents the long-standing reference state problem in the knowledge-based approaches. With this hierarchical protocol, we have participated in the CAPRI experiments for Rounds 15–19 of 11 targets (T32-T42). In the predictor experiments, we achieved correct binding modes for six targets: three are with high accuracy (T40 for both distinct binding modes, T41, and T42), two are with medium accuracy (T34 and T37), and one is acceptable (T32). In the scorer experiments, of the seven target complexes that contain at least one acceptable mode submitted by the CAPRI predictor groups, we obtained correct binding modes for four targets: three are with high accuracy (T37, T40, and T41) and one is with medium accuracy (T34), suggesting good accuracy and robustness of ITScorePP. Proteins 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.