A simple application of the Stark-pulse technique, developed by Brewer and Shoemaker, demonstrates optical free induction decay-the optical analog of free induction decay in NMR. A molecular sample which is coherently prepared by a cw laser beam exhibits such a decay when it is suddenly switched out of resonance by a Stark field. Observations are presented for a nondegenerate Doppler-broadened infrared transition of NH2D, where the sample is optically thin, and the decay behavior can be compared quantitatively with a solution of the Bloch equations. When the molecular sample is prepared under steady-state conditions, the solutions are analytic; for pulse excitation, a numerical solution is required. The treatment invokes a hard-collision relaxation model. Such characteristics as the abrupt termination of the decay and the related edge echo, which result from Doppler dephasing, can be examined for Stark pulses of finite extent. © 1972 The American Physical Society.