Laser shock processing of 6061-T6 aluminium alloy is carried out. Temperature and stress fields are simulated in line with the experimental conditions. Metallurgical changes due to the laser shock and microhardness in the laser treated region are examined using analytical tools that include scanning and transmission electron microscopes and microhardness tester. The depth of shock affected region, plastic strain, and dislocation density are determined numerically and experimentally in the laser treated region. It is found that the temperature attains high values at the centre of the irradiated spot resulting in high rate of evaporation at the surface. The recoil pressure formed, due to high evaporation rate, at the laser treated surface results in plastic deformation of about 500 mm below the surface. A dislocation density of the order 2 x 10(13) to 4 x 10(13) cm(-2) occurs in the surface region. Although high temperature gradients result in high stress levels in the region below the surface vicinity, high recoil pressure results in crack free surface with compressive stress.