Optical tweezers constitute a powerful technique with a wide range of applications in biological studies. Nevertheless, the response of living matter to the interaction with laser light still remains unclear. Photothermal and photochemical effects primarily due to laser absorption seem to be the major detrimental causes. This work aims at assessing the laser heating effects on NG108 cells by studying the induction of apoptosis and necrosis on these cells. Furthermore, quantification of the local temperature increase in the focus of the optical trap with the back-focal-plane interferometry technique is also one of the main goals.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.