A compact laser-plasma proximity x-ray lithography system suitable for laboratory-scale low-volume nanometer patterning is presented. The laser-plasma source, which is based on a fluorocarbon liquid-jet target, generates high-brightness λ=1.2–1.7 nm x-ray emission with only negligible debris production. The Au/SiNx x-ray mask is fabricated by employing ion milling and a high-contrast e-beam resist. With SAL-601 chemically enhanced resist we demonstrate fabrication of high-aspect-ratio, sub-100 nm structures. The exposure time is currently 20 min using a compact 10 Hz, λ=532 nm, 70 mJ/pulse mode-locked Nd:YAG laser. However, the regenerative liquid-jet target is designed for operation with future, e.g., 1000 Hz, lasers resulting in projected exposure times of ∼10 s. © 1997 American Vacuum Society.