The atomic structure of the monohydride Si(001)-(2 x 1)-H reconstruction has been investigated by surface X-ray diffraction. Atomic relaxations down to the eighth layer have been determined. The bond length of the hydrogenated silicon dimers was found to be 2.47 +/- 0.02 Angstrom. which is longer than the dimer bond of the clean (2 x 1)-reconstructed Si(001) surface and also 5% longer than the bulk bond length of 2.35 Angstrom. The differences to the (2 x 1) structure of the clean surface are discussed in terms of the elimination of the weak pi-bond character of the dimer bond by the addition of hydrogen. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.