Absorption measurements of HCl during plasma etching of poly-silicon are made using the P(4) transition in the first vibrational overtone band near 1.79 μm. Single path absorption provides a real-time HCl monitor during etching of six-inch wafers in a commercial Lam Research 9400SE reactor at the University of Michigan. Wavelength modulation at 10.7 MHz is used to distinguish the absorption signal from the strong plasma emission. The laser center frequency is ramp-tuned at 500 Hz providing an HCl measurement every 2ms. Direct absorption measurements without the plasma are used to calibrate the wavelength modulation signal. The minimum detectable absorbance was 5x(10)<sup>-6</sup> with 50 ms averaging, leading to an HCl detection limit of ~(10)<sup>12</sup>cm<sup>-3</sup>. For a given ratio of the feedstock HBr/Cl<sub>2</sub>, the measured HCl concentration tracks the average etch rate. These measurements demonstrate the feasibility of a real-time diode laser-based etch rate sensor.