This article initially outlines a procedure used to develop a written diagnostic instrument to identify grade-11 and -12 students' misconceptions and misunderstandings of the chemistry topic covalent bonding and structure. The content to be taught was carefully defined through a concept map and propositional statements. Following instruction, student understanding of the topic was identified from interviews, student-drawn concept maps, and free-response questions. These data were used to produce 15 two-tier multiple-choice items where the first tier examined content knowledge and the second examined understanding of that knowledge in six conceptual areas, namely, bond polarity, molecular shape, polarity of molecules, lattices, intermolecular forces, and the octet rule. The diagnostic instrument was administered to a total of 243 grade-11 and -12 chemistry students and has a Cronbach alpha reliability of 0.73. Item difficulties ranged from 0.13 to 0.60; discrimination values ranged from 0.32 to 0.65. Each item was analyzed to ascertain student understanding of and identify misconceptions related to the concepts and propositional statements underlying covalent bonding and structure.