Thin Fe films grown on MgO by molecular beam epitaxy are analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Rutherford backscattering and channeling spectrometry (RBS-C). This extensive characterization of a simple system as single Fe films allows us to do a detailed structural characterization, which can be used as a yardstick in the interpretation of Fe layers in more complex structures as, e.g., multilayers. The atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray diffraction and Rutherford backscattering and channeling spectrometry results demonstrate the film's smoothness, mosaic structure, and epitaxial quality, respectively. Simulations of both X-ray diffraction, by the Suprex routine, and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry results, by the RUMP simulation code, show that the experimentally determined structural parameters by different techniques match each other. Moreover, by using the measured thickness, mosaic spread and oxidation as input parameters in Monte Carlo simulations of ion channeling scans, a good agreement with the experimental dips was obtained as well. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.