Abstract Microcrystallites of CdTe and CdS were obtained by pulsed laser ablation in argon gas. Average particle size depended on laser power, and on gas pressure during ablation. Particle diameter of CdTe could be controlled from 4 to 10 nm and their particles dispersed in methanol showed a quantum size effect on measurements of absorption property. Photoluminescence spectra of microcrystallites of CdS had a strong band edge emission related to impurities or defects. We confirmed that the laser ablation method to fabricate microcrystallites of II-VI compound semiconductors was useful.