Substantial improvements in the nanofabrication and characteristics of gold Fresnel zone plates yielded unprecedented resolution levels in hard-x-ray microscopy. Tests performed on a variety of specimens with 8-10 keV photons demonstrated a first-order lateral resolution below 40 nm based on the Rayleigh criterion. Combined with the use of a phase contrast technique, this makes it possible to view features in the 30 nm range; good-quality images can be obtained at video rate, down to 50 ms/frame. The important repercussions on materials science, nanotechnology, and the life sciences are discussed. (C) 2008 American Institute of Physics.