Real-time detection and monitoring of cancer-related biomolecular interactions in live cells are of paramount importance for disease diagnostics and drug screening. Herein, we developed a target-specific fluorescent light-up probe for cellular detection of Mdm2, the key negative regulator of the p53 tumour suppressor protein. Conjugation of a uniquely designed fluorogen (TPECM) with aggregation induced- emission properties, to a specific p53-derived peptide (12.1Pep) targeting Mdm2, yielded a cell-permeable probe (TPECM–12.1Pep) with turn-on fluorescence properties for real-time live cell imaging of Mdm2. This specific light-up probe is almost non-fluorescent in its isolated state but is highly emissive upon binding to Mdm2, enabling quantitative detection of both Mdm2 and its antagonism. Using a model compound (Nutlin-3a), we demonstrate that the as-developed probes can be used to screen p53–Mdm2 inhibiting drug candidates, both in vitro and in cells. Furthermore, the probe activity can be accurately monitored in cells using a fluorescently activated cell sorting machine. These features will expedite research in the areas of drug discovery, clinical diagnostics and fundamental cell biology.