Abstract This paper describes the development of a check valve for use in a sorption compressor that will drive a 10 mW 4.5 K Joule–Thomson cryocooler. For the check valve extremely low backflow rates are tolerable at an operating temperature of the valve of 50 K. To fulfill these requirements, the sealing mechanism of the valve is based on a full metal to metal contact. In order to obtain sufficiently low leak rates, both parts were machined to a surface flatness in the order of 100 nm. In addition, the closing plate (boss) of the valve deforms (bends) slightly under pressure, forming itself to the opposite valve seat and thus reducing the gap between these parts. The measured leak flow at 50 K was 1.6 μg/s helium @ 16 bar pressure difference, which is well below the aim of 3 μg/s. The valve was subjected to an accelerated lifetime test of 300,000 cycles. It was observed that the leak flow through the valve during this test steadily decreased to a level of 0.15 μg/s after 100,000 cycles.