Obama and Bush in White House meeting
The president-elect also got his first chance to see the famed Oval Office where he'll be spending much of his time in months to come.
Bush and Obama, who routed the incumbent's fellow Republican and chosen successor John McCain in the November 4 election, met privately for about an hour in the chamber from which the US president makes world-shaping decisions.
Obama and wife Michelle Obama had arrived about 10 minutes early for their two-hour visit and got a warm welcome from Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the mansion's South Portico, a gateway to the mansion for many world leaders.
As their wives took a tour of the 132-room White House's residential areas, the 43rd president and his successor strolled along the Rose Garden and into the Oval Office, Obama's first ever visit to the storied seat of power.
Bush guided Obama into the room for private, one-on-one talks 71 days before the Democrat formally becomes the first black US president and inherits two wars and a global economic crisis that some compare to the Great Depression.
The outgoing leader described the talks as "good, constructive, relaxed and friendly," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Michelle Obama spent some time talking with the current first lady about raising children in the White House.
Mrs. Bush conducted a tour of the living quarters of the historic mansion and made introductions to the army of residence staff who look after first families.
Michelle Obama had toured the White House before with daughters Malia, who is 10, and Sasha, who is 7. But the two women had never met.
While the meeting between the president and the president-elect was all smiles, Obama has wasted no time since his election victory last week in signalling that some of the current administration's policies will be quickly overturned once he takes office in January.
His transition chief, John Podesta, has said that executive orders by President Bush on issues such as stem cell research and oil drilling were at odds with Obama's views, and could easily be repealed since no Congressional action was required.