Spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) measurements were made during and after electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) etching of GaAs. The spectral range for ex situ measurements, 1.24–5 eV, included the E1, E1+A1 critical points. The Ej, Ei+Aj structure was red shifted by about 50 meV, and broadened, by etching with a mixture of methane, argon, and hydrogen. Exposure to a pure H2 plasma caused greater red shifting and broadening, while a pure Ar ECR plasma produced only a slight red shift. The red shift is consistent with an increase in lattice constant of the order of 1%, in the top 10-30 nm. Broadening is consistent with crystalline lattice damage.