Laser shock processing (LSP) is consolidating as an effective technology for the improvement of metallic materials surface properties involving their fatigue life. The main acknowledged advantage of the LSP technique consists on its capability of inducing a relatively deep compression residual stresses field into metallic alloy pieces allowing an improved mechanical behaviour, explicitly the life improvement of the treated specimens against wear, crack growth and stress corrosion cracking. Progress accomplished by the authors in the line of practical development of the LSP technique at an experimental level, aiming its integral assessment from an interrelated theoretical and experimental point of view, is presented in this paper. Concretely, experimental results on the residual stress profiles and associated surface properties modification successfully reached in typical materials (especially Al and Ti alloys) under different LSP irradiation conditions are presented, a correlated analysis of the residual stress profiles obtained under different irradiation strategies and the evaluation of the corresponding induced surface properties as roughness and wear resistance being also presented. Through a coupled theoretical- experimental analysis the real possibilities of the LSP technique as a possible substitutive of related traditional surface modification techniques as, for example, shot peening.