Strategies for the improvement of quasiaxisymmetric stellarator configurations are explored. Calculations of equilibrium flux surfaces for candidate configurations are also presented. One optimization strategy is found to generate configurations with improved neoclassical confinement, simpler coils with lower current density, and improved flux surface quality relative to previous designs. The flux surface calculations find significant differences in the extent of islands and stochastic regions between candidate configurations. (These calculations do not incorporate the predicted beneficial effects of perturbed bootstrap currents.) A method is demonstrated for removing low order islands from candidate configurations by relatively small modifications of the configuration. One configuration is identified as having particularly desirable properties for a proposed experiment. (C) 2001 American Institute of Physics.