In this paper, we present SMoG (Small Molecule Growth), a novel, straightforward method for de novo lead design and the evidence for its effectiveness. It is based on a simple model for ligand-protein interactions and a scoring that is directly related to the free energy through a knowledge-based potential. A large number of structures are examined by an efficient metropolis Monte Carlo molecular growth algorithm that generates molecules through the adjoining of functional groups directly in the binding region. Thus SMoG is a method that is able to rank a large number of potential compounds according to binding free energy in a short time. In this sense, SMoG represents a step toward an ideal computational tool for ligand design.