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A general space-frequency (SF) block code structure is proposed that can guarantee full-rate (one channel symbol per subcarrier) and full-diversity transmission in multiple-input multiple-output-orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (MIMO-OFDM) systems. The proposed method can be used to construct SF codes for an arbitrary number of transmit antennas, any memoryless modulation and arbitrary power-delay profiles. Moreover, assuming that the power-delay profile is known at the transmitter, we devise an interleaving method to maximize the overall performance of the code. We show that the diversity product can be decomposed as the product of the "intrinsic" diversity product, which depends only on the used signal constellation and the code design, and the "extrinsic" diversity product, which depends only on the applied interleaving method and the power delay profile of the channel. Based on this decomposition, we propose an interleaving strategy to maximize the "extrinsic" diversity product. Extensive simulation results show that the proposed SF codes outperform the previously existing codes by about 3-5 dB, and that the proposed interleaving method results in about 1-3-dB performance improvement compared to random interleaving.