Single crystal diamond produced by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) at very high growth rates (up to 150 mu m/h) has been successfully annealed without graphitization at temperatures up to 2200 degrees C and pressures <300 torr. Crystals were annealed in a hydrogen environment by using microwave plasma techniques for periods of time ranging from a fraction of minute to a few hours. This low-pressure/high-temperature (LPHT) annealing enhances the optical properties of this high-growth rate CVD single crystal diamond. Significant decreases are observed in UV, visible, and infrared absorption and photoluminescence spectra. The decrease in optical absorption after the LPHT annealing arises from the changes in defect structure associated with hydrogen incorporation during CVD growth. There is a decrease in sharp line spectral features indicating a reduction in nitrogen-vacancy-hydrogen (NVH(-)) defects. These measurements indicate an increase in relative concentration of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in nitrogen-containing LPHT-annealed diamond as compared with as-grown CVD material. The large overall changes in optical properties and the specific types of alterations in defect structure induced by this facile LPHT processing of high-growth rate single-crystal CVD diamond will be useful in the creation of diamond for a variety of scientific and technological applications.