The introduction of the shaped-beam imaging technique has greatly enhanced the exposure efficiency of electron-beam lithography systems. IBM's EL systems provide the throughput needed for lithography applications in semiconductor fabrication lines. The resolution of these systems has been steadily improved over the past 15 years in support of the semiconductor lithography trend toward submicron dimensions. This paper describes the latest version (EL-3 system) capable of fabricating 0.25-μm features. The technical challenges of submicron e-beam lithography are discussed, and practical solutions together with experimental results are presented.