Abstract We describe the general spectroscopic characteristics of the zirconia–alumino–silicate glass doped with chromium. The material displays all the features typical of trivalent chromium occupying weak field sites with spectral properties characteristic of the glass phase. In the excited state absorption (ESA) spectra features typical of chromium doped materials known from previously reported data are observed, although not all of them can be attributed to the Cr 3+ ions. The ESA spectrum, partially overlapping the emission range, appears to preclude lasing in the range 11300–14400 cm −1, but for the energies lower than 11300 cm −1 a net gain can occur. Based on absorption and emission data a single configuration coordinate diagram is created which allows a predicted ESA spectrum to be compared with the experimental data.