Efficient similarity search in high-dimensional spaces is important to content-based retrieval systems. Recent studies have shown that sketches can effectively approximate L1 distance in high-dimensional spaces, and that filtering with sketches can speed up similarity search by an order of magnitude. It is a challenge to further reduce the size of sketches, which are already compact, without compromising accuracy of distance estimation. This paper presents an efficient sketch algorithm for similarity search with L 2 distances and a novel asymmetric distance estimation technique. Our new asymmetric estimator takes advantage of the original feature vector of the query to boost the distance estimation accuracy. We also apply this asymmetric method to existing sketches for cosine similarity and Li distance. Evaluations with datasets extracted from images and telephone records show that our L 2 sketch outperforms existing methods, and the asymmetric estimators consistently improve the accuracy of different sketch methods. To achieve the same search quality, asymmetric estimators can reduce the sketch size by 10% to 40%.