A new laser refractive procedure is being developed in a rabbit model. With a modified microkeratome, central corneal flaps were created. An ArF excimer laser was used to produce 3-mm-diameter circular ablations on the central part of the exposed stromal bed. One group of animals was sacrificed immediately postoperatively, and both the dissected and ablated areas were studied using scanning electron microscopy. A second group of animals was sacrificed 4 weeks postoperatively. In this group, the subsequent healing of the corneas was studied using light microscopy. At 3 days, the wounded stromal areas showed some degree of haze. Haze was progressively reduced over 1 month, but it could be still discerned biomicroscopically. A hemicircular opacification corresponding to the flap edges was also apparent on slit-lamp examination. Microscopic observation showed that the epithelium was normal, except at the flap margins, where it was thickened. An increased number of keratocytes was observed in the interface between the flap stroma and the ablated area. The procedure might induce stable corneal changes because of the preservation of the anterior layers of the cornea.