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Summary form only given. In order to implement or accommodate nonlinearity in future telecommunications systems the nonlinear coefficient n/sub 2/ must be accurately known and the affect of fiber constitution on the nonlinearity readily determinable. We describe here a technique that employs a cw pumping scheme, based upon the effect of self-phase modulation of a beat signal derived from two diode laser sources, to determine n/sub 2/, which can be readily applied to both short and long fiber lengths. The technique has been used to determine the nonlinear coefficient of standard telecommunications, dispersion-shifted and dispersion-compensating optical fibers.