We have measured the intensity profile and transmission of x rays focused by a series of either spherical or parabolic lenses fabricated using Mylar® (C5H4O2) or Kapton® (polyimide). The use of plastics can extend the range of operation of compound refractive lenses, improving transmission and aperture size and reducing focal length. The number of unit lenses range from 193 to 600 for each compound refractive lens. Two-dimensional focusing was obtained for photon energies 8–14 keV with imaging distances of less than 1 m. For example, full-width-half-maximum linewidths down to 16 μm at a distance of only 47 cm from the lens were achieved at 9 keV. The effective apertures of the refractive lenses were measured between 250 and 364 μm with peak transmissions between 10% and 33%. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.