BACKGROUND: The biomedical domain is witnessing a rapid growth of the amount of published scientific results, which makes it increasingly difficult to filter the core information. There is a real need for support tools that 'digest' the published results and extract the most important information. RESULTS: We describe and evaluate an environment supporting the extraction of domain-specific relations, such as protein-protein interactions, from a richly-annotated corpus. We use full, deep-linguistic parsing and manually created, versatile patterns, expressing a large set of syntactic alternations, plus semantic ontology information. CONCLUSION: The experiments show that our approach described is capable of delivering high-precision results, while maintaining sufficient levels of recall. The high level of abstraction of the rules used by the system, which are considerably more powerful and versatile than finite-state approaches, allows speedy interactive development and validation.