Refractive index modification of pure poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) is investigated as a function of pulse duration using femtosecond lasers at 800 and 387 nm wavelength. It is observed that at 800 nm, the refractive index is modified more efficiently as the pulse duration decreases below 100 fs, whereas at 387 nm, efficient index modification is accomplished with longer, 180 fs pulses. Results suggest that three-and two-photon absorption is responsible for modification of pure PMMA at 800 nm and 387 nm, respectively. Repeated irradiation with short pulses of low laser fluence allows control of the photomodification via incubation, thus reducing bulk damage. \circledC 2008 Optical Society of America.