The fabrication of gold Fresnel zone plates, by a combination of e-beam lithography and electrodeposition, with a 30 nm outermost zone width and a 450 nm-thick structure is described. The e-beam lithography process was implemented with a careful evaluation of applied dosage, tests of different bake-out temperatures and durations for the photoresist, and the use of a developer without methylisobutylketone. Electrodeposition with a pulsed current mode and with a specially designed apparatus produced the desired high-aspect-ratio nanostructures. The fabricated zone plates were examined by electron microscopy and their performances were assessed using a transmission X-ray microscope. The results specifically demonstrated an image resolution of 40 nm. (C) 2008 International Union of Crystallography.