Excimer laser surface processing is well-known for material ablation, cleaning, deoxidation, smoothing or roughening. A typical industrial application is the polymer ablation for electronic components, however, the treatment of metals is only on the threshold of industrial use. A novel application reported here, may be an excimer treatment in air leading to oxide and nitrogen dissolution, resulting in an improved corrosion resistance. It is known from literature that corrosion resistance can be enhanced by laser surface alloying e.g. gas nitriding of Ti using CO2-lasers. However, all these techniques have the disadvantage of producing inhomogeneous layers. The aim of this study was to use the reactions during excimer laser irradiation of steel in air to produce layers in the thickness range of 0,1 to 2 micrometers with novel properties. Using the Siemens XP2020 excimer laser it was possible to scan technologically reasonable surface areas with energy densities in the range of 20 to 80 mJ/mm2 and several pulses per area. Steel sheets of 1.4541 (DIN) were irradiated in air and subsequently analyzed by XRD, SEM, TEM, AES and Mossbauer spectroscopy. The corrosion behavior was tested potentio-dynamically in 0,5 N H2SO4 and by gravimetric measurements of the weight loss. The XRD results showed, that the remaining delta-ferrite was eliminated. Both Mossbauer and Auger spectroscopy indicated a strong N- dissolution, hereby stabilizing the austenite. The TEM-investigations revealed fine dispersed oxides (chromites) and an increased dislocation density, resulting in pre-cellular arrangements after relaxation. Corrosion tests suggested the reduction of the material removal rates by a factor of 10 compared to untreated samples. The U(i) curves showed that after the excimer treatment less Cr is presented due to oxide formation in the surface layer. These Cr-oxides are the main reason for the improved corrosion resistance of excimer laser treated stainless steel.