CCD photometry of the NEAR mission fly-by target 253 Mathilde is presented. Measurements taken during 52 nights of observations, from February to June 1995, allow a rotation period of 17.406±0.010 days and a lightcurve amplitude of 0.45±0.02 mag to be determined. A B-V color index of 0.67±0.02 and a V-R of 0.35±0.02 are measured, which are compatible with C-type membership. The determination of the phase relation results in H = 10.28±0.03 and G = 0.12±0.06. Indications that the lightcurve is not strictly singly-periodic are found. A power-spectrum analysis detects a secondary frequency f2 = 0.0322±0.0010 d -1, which is interpreted as evidence for a complex rotation state.