Pulsed laser deposition may be accomplished by irradiating a target with a high intensity laser pulse. The flux of particles moving from the target to the substrate obeys gas-dynamic laws when the density of the emitted particles exceeds ∼1 monolayer/(10 ns). The angular distribution of the plume, which depends on various factors, will strongly affect the deposit characteristics. It has been found that an intensified CCD camera can be successfully used to analyze laterally in two orthogonal directions the profile of the expanding plume. A marked influence of laser spot dimension and shape on plume dynamics is observed for laser ablation of a number of materials such as metals, semiconductors and high Tc superconductors.