Synthetic yet realistic images are valuable for many applications in visual sciences and medical imaging. Typically, investigators develop algorithms and adjust their parameters to generate images that are visually similar to real images. In this study, we used a genetic algorithm and an objective, statistical similarity measure to optimize a particular texture generation algorithm, the clustered lumpy backgrounds (CLB) technique, and synthesize images mimicking real mammograms textures. We combined this approach with psychophysical experiments involving the judgment of radiologists, who were asked to qualify the visual realism of the images. Both objective and psychophysical approaches show that the optimized versions are significantly more realistic than the previous CLB model. Anatomical structures are well reproduced, and arbitrary large databases of mammographic texture with visual and statistical realism can be generated. Potential applications include detection experiments, where large amounts of statistically traceable yet realistic images are needed. (C) 2008 Optical Society of America.