Glassy carbon is used nowadays for a variety of applications because of its mechanical strength, thermal stability and non-sticking adhesion properties. This makes it also a suitable candidate as mold material for precision compression molding of low and high glass-transition temperature materials. To fabricate molds for diffractive optics a highresolution structuring technique is needed. We introduce a process that allows the micro-structuring of glassy carbon by reactive ion etching. Key parameters such as uniformity, surface roughness, edge definition and lateral resolution are discussed. They are the most relevant parameters for a stamp in optical applications. The use of titanium as a hard mask makes it possible to achieve a reasonable selectivity of 4:1, which has so far been one of the main problems in microstructuring of glassy carbon. We investigate the titanium surface structure with its 5-10 nm thick layer of TiO2 grains and its influence on the shape of the hard mask. In our fabrication procedure we were able to realize optically flat diffractive structures with slope angles of more than 80° at typical feature sizes of 5 μm and at 700 nm depth. The fabricated glassy carbon molds were applied to thermal imprinting onto different glasses. Glassy carbon molds with 1 mm thickness were tested with binary optical structures. Our experiments show the suitability of glassy carbon as molds for cost efficient mass production with a high quality. © (2014) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.