Single crystal silicon has been the material of choice for x-ray monochromators for the past several decades. However, the need for suitable monochromators to handle the high heat load of the next generation synchrotron x-ray beams on the one hand and the rapid and on-going advances in synthetic diamond technology on the other make a compelling case for the consideration of a diamond monochromator system. In this paper, we consider various aspects, advantages and disadvantages, and promises and pitfalls of such a system and evaluate the comparative performance of a diamond monochromator subjected to the high heat load of the most powerful x-ray beam that will become available in the next few years. The results of experiments performed to evaluate the diffraction properties of a currently available synthetic single crystal diamond are also presented. Fabrication of a diamond-based monochromator is within present technical means.© (1993) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.