The purpose of the present study was to selectively target pigmented trabecular meshwork cells without producing collateral damage to adjacent non-pigmented cells or structures. The ability to selectively target trabecular meshwork cells without coagulation, while preserving the structural integrity of the meshwork, could be a useful approach to study whether the biological response of non-coagulative damage to the trabecular meshwork and trabecular meshwork cells is similar to that seen with coagulative damage to the trabecular meshwork which occurs with argon laser trabeculoplasty. This approach also may be useful to non-invasively deplete trabecular meshwork cells while preserving the structural integrity of the trabecular meshwork in an animal model. A mixed cell culture of pigmented and non-pigmented trabecular meshwork cells were irradiated with Q-switched Nd-YAG and frequency-doubled Nd-YAG lasers, microsound pulsed dye-lasers, and an argon ion laser in order to define a regime where laser absorption would be confined to pigmented trabecular meshwork cells, thereby permitting selective targeting of these cells without producing collateral thermal damage to adjacent non-pigmented cells. Pulse durations ranged from 10 nsec to 0.1 sec. A fluorescent viability/cytotoxicity assay was used to evaluate laser effects and threshold energies, and cells were examined morphologically by light and TEM. Selective targeting of pigmented trabecular meshwork cells was achieved with pulse durations between 10 nsec and 1 microsec and 1 microsec without producing collateral thermal or structural damage to adjacent non-pigmented trabecular meshworks cells when examined by light and transmission electron microscopy. Pulse durations greater than 1 microsec resulted in non-selective killing of non-pigmented trabecular meshwork cells. Threshold radiant exposures were as low as 18 mJ cm-2, and increased at longer wavelengths, longer pulse durations and lower melanin contents within the cells. It is concluded that selective targeting of pigmented trabecular meshwork cells can be achieved using pulsed lasers with low threshold radiant exposures avoiding collateral thermal damage to adjacent non-pigmented trabecular meshwork cells. This approach can be readily applied in vivo.