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In the present work, electron beam induced current (EBIC) has been applied to characterize several kinds of chemical vapor deposition diamond films. Regions of enhanced carrier recombination are detected in plan-view observations of thin films as well as in cross sections of thick films. Remote EBIC (REBIC) has been applied to obtain information about charged defects present in the samples. The dependence of EBIC and REBIC contrast on the contact configuration used, and on the observation conditions has been analyzed. Cathodoluminescence images of the same samples have been recorded for comparison. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.