An argon fluoride excimer laser (193 nm) with a moving slit delivery system was used to perform anterior myopic keratomileusis in both eyes of 24 New Zealand white rabbits. Rabbits were killed immediately after ablation and at intervals up to 100 days. By slit-lamp microscopy, four rabbits at day 100 exhibited four clear corneas and four corneas had central, spotty, subepithelial haze. Light and electron microscopy documented corneal healing. In the early stages a transient acellular zone in the anterior stroma appeared over a period of three weeks, followed by an increased number of fibrocytes. In the corneas with opacification, focal areas of 20-microns-thick subepithelial scarring were present. An unexpected finding was transient damage to posterior stromal keratocytes and endothelial cells. The endothelium produced a layer of granular material that migrated anteriorly across Descemet's membrane. Immunochemistry at day 6 showed a marked staining for collagen IV, proteoglycans, fibronectin, and laminin.