Irradiation of enamel with laser energy changes the physical and chemical characteristics of the enamel surface, and these alterations hold promise for the conditioning of enamel for bonding procedures. This laboratory study examined the influence of laser irradiation of enamel at 2 different power settings with an erbium, chromium: yttrium, scandium, gallium, garnet (Er,Cr:YSGG) hydrokinetic laser system (Millennium System, Biolase Technology, Inc; San Clemente, Calif) on the shear bond strength of orthodontic appliances and compared these with that of acid-etching. The prepared surfaces of 40 noncarious, intact, extracted premolars were exposed to laser energy: 20 teeth at 2-W setting (5.6 J/cm(2)) and 20 teeth at 1-W setting (2.7 J/cm(2)) of the commercial laser unit. Twenty teeth were etched with 37% orthophosphoric acid. Brackets were bonded with an orthodontic no-mix adhesive, and shear bond strength was determined with a universal testing machine. Data were analyzed with Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney U tests. Etched and restored surfaces of an acid-etched tooth and a 2-W laser-irradiated tooth were examined with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Laser treatment under 2 W resulted in bond strengths of 7.11 +/- 4.56 megapascals (MPa), which was not significantly different from that of acid etching (8.23 +/- 2.30 MPa). Laser irradiation at 1 W resulted in bond strengths of 5.64 +/- 3.19 MPa, which was significantly different from that of acid etching (P <.05). However, large SD and coefficient of variation values of both laser groups made reliability of this method as an enamel conditioner questionable. Scanning electron microscopy studies of the restored irradiated surfaces showed good surface characteristics, whereas the lased surface was still more irregular than the restored acid-etched sample. Although laser devices are effectively used in some other areas of dentistry, enamel conditioning with an Er,Cr:YSGG laser cannot be considered a successful alternative to the conventional methods of increasing bond strengths to enamel.