The stress evolution during diffusion annealing of Ni-Cu bilayers (individual layer thicknesses of 50 nm) was investigated employing ex-situ and in-situ X-ray diffraction measurements. Annealing at relatively low homologous temperatures (about 0.3 - 0.4 Tm) for durations up to about 100 hours results in considerable diffusional intermixing, as demonstrated by Auger-electron spectroscopy investigations (in combination with sputter-depth profiling). In addition to thermal stresses due to differences of the coefficients of thermal expansion of layers and substrate, tensile stress con-tributions in the sublayers arise during the diffusion anneals. The obtained stress data have been discussed in terms of possible mechanisms of stress generation. The influence of diffusion on stress development in the sublayers of the diffusion couple during heating and isothermal annealing was investigated by comparing stress changes in the bilayer system with corresponding results obtained under identical conditions for single layers of the components in the bilayer system. The specific residual stresses that emerge due to diffusion between the (sub)layers in the bilayer could thereby be identified.