The excimer laser, which produces light in the far-ultraviolet portion of the spectrum, allows precise removal of corneal tissue through a photochemical laser-tissue interaction. This interaction is not thermal and does not involve optical breakdown; rather, it directly breaks organic molecular bonds without tissue heating. We used this process of ablative photodecomposition to remove corneal tissue in a series freshly enucleated cow eyes. Applying the far-ultraviolet light in short intense pulses permitted us to control the depth of the incision with great precision. We found that 1 joule/cm2 ablates corneal tissue to a depth of 1 micron. Adjacent tissue suffered no thermal damage and the stromal lamellae adjacent to the incision showed no evidence of disorganization.