A novel fiber-optic measurement system for superconducting accelerator magnets is described. The principal component is an extrinsic Fabry-Perot interferometer to determine localized strain and stress in coil windings. The system can be used either as a sensitive relative strain measurement system or as an absolute strain detector. Combined, one can monitor the mechanical behaviour of the magnet system over time during construction, long time storage and operation. The sensing mechanism is described, together with various tests in laboratory environments. The test results of a multichannel test matrix to be incorporated first in the dummy coils and then in the final version of a 13 T Nb/sub 3/Sn accelerator dipole magnet are presented. Finally, the possible use of this system as a quench localization system is proposed.