The purpose of this paper is to present basic functional principles of high frequency x-ray generators. The emphasis is put on physical concepts that determine the engineering solutions to the problem of efficient generation and control of high voltage power required to drive the x-ray tube. The physics of magnetically coupled circuits is discussed first, as a background for the discussion of engineering issues related to high-frequency power transformer design. Attention is paid to physical processes that influence such factors as size, efficiency, and reliability of a high voltage power transformer. The basic electrical circuit of a high frequency generator is analyzed next, with focus on functional principles. This section investigates the role and function of basic components, such as power supply, inverter, and voltage doubler. Essential electronic circuits of generator control are then examined, including regulation of voltage, current and timing of electrical power delivery to the x-ray tube. Finally, issues related to efficient feedback control, including basic design of the AEC circuitry are reviewed. © 2002 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.