Ultrashort pulses appear very promising for material removal with ultra high precision. Initial investigations showed, however, several unexpected quality problems such as formation of recast, ripples and irregular hole shapes even in the femtosecond pulse regime. After describing the problems, this contribution will present some progress in fundamental understanding of the ultrafast ablation process. On the basis of this knowledge technical means have been developed allowing to achieve an unprecedented level of accuracy at acceptable expenses. The latter being strongly influenced by the shortness of the laser pulse, a comparison between pico- and femto-second regime will be presented.© (2003) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.