© 2016, The Author(s).UltraSeal XT® hydro™ is a new hydrophilic, light-cured, methacrylate-based pit and fissure sealant which has been developed by Ultradent Products, USA. The sealant is highly filled with a 53 wt.% mixture of inorganic particles which confer both thixotropy and radiopacity. The principal purpose of this study was to investigate the microleakage of UltraSeal XT® hydro™ as a function of different enamel etching techniques. The occlusal surfaces of sound, extracted human molars were either acid etched, Er:YAG laser irradiated or successively laser irradiated and acid etched. UltraSeal XT® hydro™ was applied to each group of teeth (n = 10) which were subjected to a thermocycling process consisting of 2500 cycles between 5 and 50 °C with a dwell time of 30 s. Microleakage assessments were then carried out using 0.5 % fuchsin dye and optical microscopy. The microleakage score data were analysed using the Kruskal-Wallis, Mann–Whitney U test with Bonferroni adjustment. No significant differences in microleakage were noted between the individually acid etched and laser-irradiated groups (p > 0.05); however, teeth treated with a combination of laser irradiation and acid etching demonstrated significantly lower microleakage scores (p < 0.001). Electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray analysis revealed that the mineral filler component of UltraSeal XT® hydro™ essentially comprises micrometre-sized particles of inorganic silicon-, aluminium- and barium-bearing phases. Laser etching increases the roughness of the enamel surface which causes a concentrated zoning of the filler particles at the enamel-sealant interface.