The residual stress in thin diamond films with a strongly improved heteroepitaxial alignment has been studied by x-ray diffraction and micro-Raman spectroscopy. The measurements have been compared with the predictions from finite element simulations. The diamond films have been deposited by microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition at a temperature of 700°C on thin (200 nm) iridium buffer layers on SrTiO3(001). Three different regions have been found for a 600 nm thick diamond film: (I) a high quality epitaxial central area with ≫109 cm-2 oriented diamond grains showing a mosaic spread of only ≈1°; (II) a ringlike area of isolated epitaxial islands; and (III) a nontextured closed film at the edge of the sample. In area I the stress tensor was determined from the mean shift of the x-ray Bragg reflections. It can be interpreted in terms of a plane, biaxial stress state with σ=-4.9 GPa which is confirmed by micro-Raman measurements. Analyzing the diamond (004) and (311) peak profiles measured by x-ray diffraction (XRD) using monochromatic CuKα1 radiation allows us to distinguish a strongly shifted main component and a weaker, broader component with a minor shift. Finite element simulations predict a pronounced elastic relaxation of the thermal stress at rugged surfaces thus explaining this minor component. They also substantiate a stress reduction by more than 80% as observed by Raman measurements in area II. Combining all measurements taken in the different areas with the predictions of the simulation allows to separate four contributions, i.e., the thermal stress, elastic stress relaxation at a rugged surface, inhomogeneous stress contributions from the coalescence of the grains, and fina- lly coherence stress due to lattice misfit. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.