We have demonstrated that a microelectrical mechanical systems (MEMS) deformable mirror can be flattened to < 1 nm RMS within controllable spatial frequencies over a 9.2-mm aperture making it a viable option for high-contrast adaptive optics systems (also known as Extreme Adaptive Optics). The Extreme Adaptive Optics Testbed at UC Santa Cruz is being used to investigate and develop technologies for high-contrast imaging, especially wavefront control. A phase shifting diffraction interferometer (PSDI) measures wavefront errors with sub-nm precision and accuracy for metrology and wavefront control. Consistent flattening, required testing and characterization of the individual actuator response, including the effects of dead and low-response actuators. Stability and repeatability of the MEMS devices was also tested. An error budget for MEMS closed loop performance will summarize MEMS characterization.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.