The authors describe the development of a new type of micromachined device designed for use in correcting optical aberrations. A nine-element continuous deformable mirror was fabricated using surface micromachining. The electromechanical behavior of the deformable mirror was measured. A finite-difference model for predicting the mirror deflections was developed. In addition, novel fabrication techniques were developed to permit the production of nearly planar mirror surfaces. © 1997 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.