The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of a recent study carried out-within the framework of the European Fusion Program-to design a 12.5 T superconducting dipole. By focusing on the CICC based design option, the overall design procedure is presented. In particular, the 2D optimization of the dipole cross section is described including the magneto-static analysis of the winding and iron yoke, the mechanical analysis of the conductor jacket, insulation and outer cylinder, the conductor hot spot analysis, etc. As far as the thermo-hydraulic design is concerned, simulations of nominal as well as offset operating conditions (e.g., magnet quench) are presented with emphasis on their role played in the overall magnet design. For example, diagrams reporting the helium heat removal capabilities, pressure drop, mass flow, etc. are shown and their usefulness as guidance for the magnet designer described. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.