The interaction of a pulse from a TEA laser with the free liquid surface of water and chloroform, is recorded by high-speed photography. The phenomena is similar to the high velocity impact of a projectile with a liquid or solid surface. A vapour cloud, above the liquid, expands with an initial velocity of 1500 m s−1 and a violent disturbance below the liquid surface is observed. In the case of chloroform, a cloud of small bubbles is produced. A shock wave model is proposed to account for the disturbance below the surface of the liquid.