Data are presented on an electron‐beam evaporated ZnSe/CaF2 distributed Bragg reflector for use on a vertical‐cavity surface‐emitting laser operating at a wavelength ∼0.98 μm. Mirror characteristics are measured using optical transmission and reflectivity for quarter‐wave structures with varying numbers of pairs from one to five. The optical characteristics of the ZnSe/CaF2 quarter‐wave stack is compared to similar structures of electron‐beam evaporated Si/SiO2 reflectors. The ZnSe/CaF2 mirror is found to be superior to the Si/SiO2 mirror in terms of both higher reflectivity and lower optical loss for all structures investigated. Comparison is also made between ZnSe/CaF2 and Si/SiO2 mirrors in the continuous‐wave performance of AlAs‐GaAs‐InGaAs quantum‐well vertical‐cavity surface‐emitting lasers. Superior laser performance is achieved with the ZnSe/CaF2 mirror in terms of threshold current and lasing efficiency.