The xenon-filled arc discharge tube has found wide applications as an optical pumping source for ruby lasers. An experimental study of the shock waves in the flashtube at laser pumping energies and their effect on tube deterioration has been made. The plasma discharge was investigated by taking high-speed image converter and streak photographs of the discharge and by measuring the relative shock amplitude at the tube walls with a piezoelectric transducer. The velocity of the luminous boundary of the plasma discharge was proportional to the input energy in the range from 60 to 500 J and varied from 90 to 900 m/sec. The luminous boundary velocity remained constant for pressures from 100 to 1500 Torr. The relative shock amplitude measured by the electromechanical transducer was independent of the tube diameter up to 12 mm, increased linearly with the input energy, and increased with gas pressure. Shock data were correlated with efficiency measurements to determine optimum tube and operational parameters. The microscopic effects of the shock wave upon the tube wall indicated that prestressing in compression the exterior surfaces of the glass wall would yield a stronger flashtube capable of higher intensities.