The TP53 gene is well known to be the most frequently mutated gene in human cancer. In addition to mutations, there are > 20 different coding region single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TP53 gene, as well as SNPs in MDM2, the negative regulator of p53. Several of these SNPs are known to alter p53 pathway function. This makes p53 rather unique among cancer-critical genes, e.g. the coding regions of other cancer-critical genes like Ha-Ras, RB, and PI3KCA do not have non-synonymous coding region SNPs that alter their function in cancer. The next frontier in p53 biology will consist of probing which of these coding region SNPs are moderately or strongly pathogenic and whether they influence cancer risk and the efficacy of cancer therapy. The challenge after that will consist of determining whether we can tailor chemotherapy to correct the defects for each of these variants. Here we review the SNPs in TP53 and MDM2 that show the most significant impact on cancer and other diseases. We also propose avenues for how this information can be used to better inform personalized medicine approaches to cancer and other diseases.