Thin films of MgF2 have been deposited by the ion-assisted electron-beam evaporation technique in order to find out the ion beam parameters leading to films of high laser damage threshold whose optical properties are stable under uncontrolled atmosphere conditions. It has been found that the ion-assisted electron-beam evaporation technique allows getting films with optical properties (refraction index and extinction coefficient) of high environmental stability by properly choosing the ion-source voltage and current. But, the laser damage fluence at 308 nm was quite dependent on the assisting ion beam parameters. Larger laser damage fluences have been found for the films deposited by using assisting ion beams delivered at lower anode voltage and current values. It has also been found that the films deposited without ion assistance were characterized by the highest laser damage fluence (5.9 J/cm2) and the lowest environmental stability. The scanning electron microscopy analysis of the irradiated areas has revealed that the damage morphologies were not dependent on the deposition conditions. © 2002 American Vacuum Society.