A key part of drug design and development is the optimization of molecular interactions between an engineered drug candidate and its binding target. Thermodynamic characterization provides information about the balance of energetic forces driving binding interactions and is essential for understanding and optimizing molecular interactions. Comprehensive thermodynamic evaluation is vital in the drug development process to speed drug development towards an optimal energetic interaction profile while retaining good pharmacological properties. Practical thermodynamic approaches, such as enthalpic optimization, thermodynamic optimization plots and the enthalpic efficiency index, have now been developed to provide proven utility in design process. Improved throughput in calorimetric methods remains essential for even greater integration of thermodynamics into drug design.