Following initiation at absorbing surface flaws, UV laser- induced damage to polished fused-silica surfaces continues to grow upon subsequent illumination. In this study photoluminescence spectroscopy was used to detect the formation of a modified, absorbing layers of silica that could be responsible for the continued growth of the damage site. For damage sites created with pulsed 355 nm illumination, three characteristic photoluminescence peaks are detected within the damage sites when excited with a 351 nm CW beam. Two of the peaks are likely due to the well- known E' and NBOHC defects associated with oxygen vacancies and broken Si-O bonds, respectively. The third, and dominant, peak at 560 nm has not been clearly identified, but is likely associated with a change in stoichiometry of the silica. The relative intensities of the peaks are non- uniform across individual damage sties. The photoluminescence data is being combined with insights from various optical and optical and electron microscopies to develop an understanding of laser-induced damage sties. The objective is to develop strategies to slow or stop the growth of the damage sites.© (2000) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.