The authors report on the fabrication of photonic crystals in the InP/InGaAsP/InP material system for applications at telecommunication wavelengths. To achieve low optical loss, the photonic crystal holes must demonstrate smooth sidewalls and should be simultaneously deep and cylindrical. The authors present the etching process of these structures based on a Cl2/Ar/N2 chemistry with an inductively coupled plasma reactive-ion etching system. A systematic analysis is provided on the dependency of the hole sidewall roughness, depth, and shape on the process parameters such as etching power, pressure, and chemical composition of the plasma. They found that a low plasma excitation power and a low physical etching are beneficial for achieving deep holes, whereas for the nitrogen content in the plasma, a delicate balance needs to be found. Nitrogen has a negative impact on the hole shape and surface roughness but is capable of preventing underetching below the mask by passivation of the sidewalls. With the authors’ process more than 4 μm deep holes with low conicity have been demonstrated.