Epitaxial liftoff is a post-growth process by which the active part of a semiconductor heterostructure, the epitaxial layer, is removed from its original substrate and deposited onto a new substrate. This is a well established technique in GaAs-based heterostructures where epitaxial liftoff can be achieved by exploiting the contrast in the etch rates of GaAs and AlAs in hydrofluoric acid. We report here successful epitaxial liftoff of a ZnSe-based heterostructure. We find that a metastable layer of MgS acts as a perfect release layer based on the huge contrast in the etch rates of ZnSe and MgS in hydrochloric acid. Epitaxial liftoff of millimeter-sized ZnSe samples takes a fraction of the time required for GaAs liftoff. Photoluminescence experiments confirm that the liftoff layer has the same optical characteristics as the original wafer material. © 2005 American Institute of Physics.