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Permanent refractive-index change can be induced by a self-trapped filament of intense ultrashort laser pulses in silica glass. We investigated the dependence of refractive-index change on polarization of incident laser pulses. As the region of refractive-index change can be selectively etched by hydrofluoric acid (HF), we first polished the sample and etched the cross section of the regions. The HF-etched cross section of refractive-index change that was induced by linearly polarized pulses was seen to be elliptical when observed with a scanning-electron microscope. By polarimetric analysis of diffraction from gratings fabricated by polarized ultrashort laser pulses, the index ellipsoid of refractive-index change was confirmed to be uniaxial and negative. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.