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Buildup and decay transients were observed when polar or nonpolar liquid cells were placed within the resonator of a helium—neon laser operating in the red at 6328 Å. Similar but smaller effects were also observed with two solids. Time constants were the order of a few seconds for all materials, which suggests a thermal phenomenon, but general heating effects were ruled out by the strong localization of the phenomenon. Transverse motion of the cell by about one beam width caused new transients similar to the initial ones. It is believed that the effects are caused by absorption of the red light in the material, producing a local heating in the vicinity of the beam and a lens effect arising from the transverse gradient of refractive index. Absorptions of 10-3 to 10-4 parts per centimeter are sufficient to produce the effects, and are believed to be reasonable values for the materials studied. One of the most important applications may in fact be for the measurement of small absorbancies. The experiments are described, and analysis of the lens effect from absorption is given. Alternate explanations which were considered are stated briefly.