Diffractive optics technology offers optical system designers new degrees of freedom that can be used to optimize the performance of optical systems. For example, the zone spacing of a diffractive lens can be chosen to impart focusing power as well as aspheric correction to the emerging wavefront. The surface (or blaze) profile within a given zone determines the diffraction efficiency of the element, or in other words, determines how the incident energy is distributed among the various diffraction orders. In this review, we present the fundamental properties of diffractive lens systems that can be useful for display applications. We also review briefly the application of multi-order diffractive lenses and subwavelength structured surfaces.© (1995) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.