We performed phototherapeutic keratectomy with a 193-nm excimer laser on 18 sighted patients (18 eyes) to treat corneal opacities. The corneal opacities were caused by corneal dystrophies in five patients; corneal scars secondary to corneal ulcers in six patients; corneal scar secondary to trauma in four patients; and band keratopathy, atopy, or corneal calcification in three patients. Mean follow-up was eight months (range, two to 18 months). Corneal clarity improved in 14 of the 18 eyes (77.7%). Four patients, three with band keratopathy or calcification and one with postinfectious corneal scar, did not improve. Uncorrected visual acuity improved in 11 patients, did not improve in five patients (including the four patients in whom treatment failed), and decreased in another two patients, apparently because of an increase in irregular astigmatism. A hyperopic shift was observed in ten patients. None of the successfully treated eyes developed surface problems or recurrence of the disease during the follow-up. Phototherapeutic keratectomy thus appears to be a safe and effective alternative to penetrating keratoplasty in some patients with selected anterior stromal opacities.