Extensive interest in the field of elastic helium atom-surface scattering is due to encouraging progress made for surface structure determination. An important ingredient in this development is a reliable atom-surface interaction potential. We briefly review the theoretical activity in this area and present our results for the He-Cu(110) interaction potential. From these studies we conclude that the Esbjerg-Nørskov relation between helium-surface repulsive potential and the surface charge density works well. The addition of the Zaremba-Kohn attractive part to the calculated repulsive part completely specifies the total interaction potential. We also reconcile different values for the Cu(110) corrugation obtained with and without using the Esbjerg-Nørskov relation. For application purposes we find that the Esbjerg-Nørskov relation with charge densities derived from atomic superposition is more convenient to use. We illustrate this by examining chemisorption of oxygen on Ni(001). For this a p(2 × 2) structure at low exposures changes to a c(2 × 2) at higher exposures. There have been conflicting suggestions about the vertical height for oxygen in the two phases. We compare our calculated corrugations with Rieder's data and conclude that in both phases oxygen is at a vertical distance of about 0.9 Å. Chlorine adsorption on Ag(001) is another system for which He diffraction work of Cardillo et al. has clearly distinguished between two competing structural alternatives. Another application is taken to show how helium diffraction can give site specific information. Here we study the He-H/Pt(111) system and demonstrate that H chemisorbs on a three-fold hcp site at a vertical distance of about 1 Å on Pt(111). As a last example, we present some new results for the Cu(110)-O(2 × 1) system. In particular, we show that He diffraction results are in agreement with the recent findings of EXAFS measurements. © 1984.