Recent advances in the development of lasers at soft x-ray wavelengths has spurred increasing interest in the production of cavity components using multilayer technology. We have established a comprehensive capability to design, fabricate, and characterize multilayer x-ray optics directed towards the goal of building the first x-ray laser cavity. High quality multilayer structures have been fabricated using magnetron sputtering. In addition, we have applied microfabrication technology to create freestanding beamsplitters and three-dimensional diffracting structures, as is discussed in another paper at this conference. The x-ray reflectivity and transmission of the multilayer components have been measured using synchrotron radiation. We have also characterized the microstructure of these devices using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM). This information provides structural parameters that are incorporated into computer codes to calculate the theoretical performance of the multilayer components. Comparison of the calculated reflectivity and transmission with the measured performance of the multilayer optics provides insight into the physics of these devices. In addition, a successful modeling capability allows us to iterate the fabrication cycle, modifying the design of the multilayer components to optimize their performance.© (1987) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.