Laser cutting of rectangular geometry in 2024 aluminum sheet is carried out under high pressure nitrogen assisting gas. Temperature and thermal stress fields are predicted in the cutting region incorporating ABAQUS finite element code. Morphological and elemental changes in the cutting section are analyzed using optical and scanning electron microscopes, and energy dispersive spectroscopy. Surface temperature rise in the vicinity of the cut edges is measured incorporating the thermocouples and the findings are compared with their counterparts obtained from the simulations for the validation purposes. It is found that temperature predictions agree well with the thermocouple data. von Mises stress attains significantly high values in the close region of the corners of the cut edges and mid-thickness of the cutting section along the rectangular geometry. The laser cutting section is free from large asperities such as cracks and sideways burnings; however, local dross attachment is observed at the kerf exit. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.