Laser treatment of pre-prepared zirconia surface is carried out. The pre-prepared surface, prior to laser treatment, consists of 50 mu m carbon film and 7% titanium carbide particles, which are imbedded in the carbon film. The microstructural and morphological changes in the laser treated surface layer are examined using optical and scanning electron microscopes, energy dispersive spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction. The fracture toughness of the laser treated surface is measured and the residual stress formed at the surface vicinity is determined from the X-ray diffraction technique. It is found that the microhardness of the laser treated surface increased slightly due to the dense layer formed at the surface vicinity. However, the laser treatment process reduces the fracture toughness of the surface due to improved surface hardness and the residual stress formed in the surface vicinity. (C) 2011 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.