Excimer laser processing results in very rapid solidification of metal surfaces. In addition to mixing or segregation processes, rapid heat treatment can result in phase transformations which yield beneficial surface properties. We have investigated the effect of pulsed excimer laser radiation on the microstructure and surface hardness of Ti-6A1-4V. This material undergoes a well defined martensite transformation during rapid quenching from temperatures in the β phase field. The depth of the transformed layer is thus a marker for the temperature profile during processing. We find that the depth of the transformed layer agrees well with a simple 1-D calculation of heat flow following the laser pulse. As measured by the nanoindenter, we find that the surface martensite is softer than the mechanically polished alloy. Multiple pulse processing at high fluences results in an increase in surface hardness, but at a depth much less than that of the martensite, suggesting an independent mechanism.