The call for brighter synchrotron X-radiation sources for use in structural biology research is barely audible as we enter the new millennium. Our brightest sources are already creating havoc when used at design specifications because of radiation damage. The time is long overdue to take stock of where we are and where we wish to go with regards to using existing sources and to designing new ones. The problem of radiation damage is particularly severe in studies involving kinetics and mechanism where cryotechniques are not always viable. Accordingly, we need to understand the very nature of radiation damage and to devise means for minimizing it. This is the thrust of the current study as applied to lipid membranes and mesophases. Here, we report on two very different types of radiation damage. One involves a dramatic phase transformation and the other a disordering of lamellar stacking. How beam energy and dose/rate affect damage is also discussed. The work highlights the nature of the damage process and the need for additional studies if we are to make most efficient use of an important resource, synchrotron radiation.