Past work in the area of laser-induced damage growth has shown growth rates to be primarily dependent on the laser fluence and wavelength. More recent studies suggest that growth rate, similar to the damage initiation process, is affected by a number of additional parameters including pulse duration, pulse shape, site size, and internal structure. In this study, we focus on the effect of pulse duration on the growth rate of laser damage sites located on the exit surface of fused silica optics. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, a significant dependence of growth rate at 351 nm on pulse duration from 1 ns to 15 ns as τ0.3 for sites in the 50-100 μm size range.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.