The present paper deals with the microstructure and hardness distribution in width and in depth of the surface layer of steel Ch18N10T GOST (AISI 321, EN X6CrNiTi 18-10) after surface melting by continuous wave CO2 laser. Light microscopy, XRD analysis and Vickers hardness testing (HV5 and HV0,05) have been used in our research. Phase analysis shows disturbance of the mono-phase initial austenitic structure in the treated layer. The structure of the melted pool consists of austenite with dendrite morphology and δ-ferrite situated in the dendrites’ cores. The ferrite has been clearly identified by XRD analysis. As a result from fast heating and cooling, ferrite, obtained by diffusionless sliding mechanism, was observed along the austenite grains’ boundaries in the heat affected zone. The presence of small inclusions of supposed Ti carbide, non-identified by XRD analysis, was also observed. The durometric investigations show that the surface hardness in the melted zone is in the range 180-210 HV5 while that of the basic metal is about 270 HV5.