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The emission of 800–1400 eV x rays from plasmas produced by KrF discharge laser pulses with durations in the range of 1 and 100 ps with energies up to 50 mJ has been studied using various metal targets. The emission spectra, angular distribution, and x‐ray conversion efficiencies into 2π Sr have been measured in vacuum. Peak conversion efficiencies of 10%–13% were obtained for Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, and Zn when a 90 ps, 50 mJ pulse was used. A 2 ps, 40 mJ pulse yielded efficiencies of 8%–10% with plasma reflectivity accounting for the reduction in conversion efficiency. An 850 fs, 35 mJ pulse gave reduced yields of 4% for Cu. In a background gas of 1 atm helium a reduction of conversion efficiency by 15% was observed for 90 ps pulses.