We present an experimental study of the drilling of metal targets with ultrashort laser pulses with pulse durations from 800 fs to 19 ps at repetition rates up to 1 MHz, average powers up to 70 Watts, using an Ytterbium-doped fiber CPA system. Particle shielding and heat accumulation have been found to influence the drilling efficiency at high repetition rates. Particle shielding causes an increase in the number of pulses for breakthrough. It occurs at a few hundred kHz, depending on the pulse energy and duration. The heat accumulation effect is noticed at higher repetition rates. Although it overbalances the particle shielding thus making the drilling process faster, heat accumulation is responsible for the formation of a large amount of molten material that limits the hole quality. The variations of the pulse duration reveal that heat accumulation starts at higher repetition rates for shorter pulse lengths. This is in agreement with the observed higher ablation efficiency with shorter pulse duration. Thus, the shorter pulses might be advantageous if highest precision and processing speed is required.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.