The holmium YAG and erbium YAG lasers operating at 2.1 micrometers and 2.9 micrometers respectively, are the subject of great interest for various medical applications. The interaction of both these pulsed lasers with biological tissue involves absorption of the radiation by water leading to rapid heating and ablation, however the different absorption coefficients at these two wavelengths give rise to different ablation efficiencies and haemostatic properties for the two lasers. It is this cut/seal ratio that determines for which medical applications each of these lasers is most suited. The lasers were used to produce incisions in various tissues by translating the tissue at fixed speed beneath a focused laser beam. The laser energy density was varied between 100 and 500 J/cm2 and the lasers were operated at 2 Hz. After irradiation the tissues were fixed in formalin, processed routinely into paraffin wax, sectioned at 5 micrometers and stained with haemotoxylin and eosin. This allowed the dimensions of the incisions to be measured, as well as the depth of coagulative denatured tissue surrounding each incision. In this way the cut/seal ratio was determined for both the holmium YAG and erbium YAG laser in a range of hard and soft tissues. Results show that the latent heat of ablation for the holmium YAG laser interacting with soft tissue varies between 20-50 kJ/cm3, almost an order of magnitude larger than with the erbium YAG laser. Furthermore, the depth of coagulative necrosis with holmium YAG extends 100-400 micrometers , compared with 10-30 micrometers for erbium YAG. The two interactions clearly lead to vastly different results suggesting that the holmium YAG laser is suitable for producing lesions in highly vascular tissue where haemostasis is important, whereas the erbium YAG laser is better suited to avascular tissue requiring large depths of incision.