It is important to study the behaviour of nuclear fuels under transient heating conditions from the point of view of nuclear safety. To simulate the transient heating conditions occurring in the known reactor accidents like loss of coolant accident (LOCA) and reactivity initiated accident (RIA), a laser pulse heating system is under development at BARC, Mumbai. As a prelude to work on irradiated nuclear fuel specimens, pilot studies on unirradiated UO2 fuel specimens were carried out. A laser pulse was used to heat specimens of UO2 held inside a chamber with an optically transparent glass window. Later, these specimens were analysed by metallography and X-ray diffraction. This paper describes the results of these studies.