Phage display is a key technology for the identification and maturation of high affinity peptides, antibodies, and other proteins. However, limitations of bacterial expression restrict the range and sensitivity of assays that can be used to evaluate phage-selected variants. To address this problem, selected genes are typically transferred to mammalian expression vectors, a major rate-limiting step in the iterative improvement of peptides and proteins. Here we describe a system that combines phage display and efficient mammalian expression in a single vector, pDQ1. This system permits immediate expression of phage-selected genes as IgG1-Fc fusions in mammalian cells, facilitating the rapid, sensitive characterization of a large number of library outputs for their biochemical and functional properties. We demonstrate the utility of this system by improving the ability of a CD4-mimetic peptide to bind the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein and neutralize HIV-1 entry. We further improved the potency of the resulting peptide, CD4mim6, by limiting its ability to induce the CD4-bound conformation of the envelope glycoprotein. Thus, CD4mim6 and its variants can be used to investigate the properties of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein, and pDQ1 can accelerate the discovery of new peptides and proteins through phage display.