Hardening laser surface offers new possibilities for the enhancement of the mechanical resistance of superficial layers. Essential for the laser treatment processes is the efficiency at which the incident laser power is coupled into the work piece. The aim of the work was to study the effect of some factors such as spot shape, beam angle of incidence and surface coating on the steel surface absorptivity. Samples made of carbon steel were laser processed using a CW CO2 - 1,2 kW laser unit. Different process parameters (beam power, spot dimension and traverse speed), were used. The microstructure of laser hardened layers which have been investigated by optical microscopy. The mechanical characterization of the layers has been done by hardness measurements. Correlation has been established between the structure of the laser-processed layers and the process parameters.