- High-power pumped Nd:YAG elements may exceed their tensile strength under high thermally induced stress. Providing extra strength to such rods is essential for their employment in high-power lasers. The tensile strength of YAG elements was increased by chemical etching in concentrated phosphoric acid. The highest tensile strength was achieved by etching of fine-ground YAG components: an average σ ¯ f = 1130 MPa for slabs, and σ ¯ f = 1225 MPa for rods, which are 3.6 times and 5 times higher than those of non-etched elements, respectively. The measurements were carried out by four-point flexure strength test. We have established a dependency among the micro-roughness of YAG elements, the surface morphology obtained by etching, and the tensile strength: the tensile strength of the etched element improves for finer after-etch surface texture, which is obtained for finer initial micro-roughness. To assure the withstanding of Nd:YAG rods under high thermal gradients, a new approach was employed, namely, increasing the pump-power applied to the Nd:YAG rod till fracture. Our results show an increase by more than 2.7 times in tensile strength of etched Nd:YAG rods as compared to standard commercial rods, which corresponds to a thermal loading of excess of 434 W/cm.