This Letter presents a search for contact interactions in the dielectron and dimuon channels using data from proton-proton collisions produced by the LHC at,root s = 7 TeV and recorded by the ATLAS detector. The data sample, collected in 2011, corresponds to an integrated luminosity of 1.08 and 1.21 fb(-1) in the e(+)e(-) and mu(+)mu(-) channels, respectively. No significant deviations from the standard model are observed. Using a Bayesian approach with a prior flat in 1/A(2), the following 95% CL lower limits are placed on the energy scale of llqq contact interactions: A(-) > 10.1 TeV (A(+) > 9.4 TeV) in the electron channel and A(-) > 8.0 TeV (A(+) > 7.0 TeV) in the muon channel for constructive (destructive) interference in the left-left isoscalar contact interaction model. Limits are also provided for a prior flat in 1/A(4). (C) 2012 CERN. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.