The final stage of the collapse of a laser-produced cavitation bubble close to a rigid boundary is studied both experimentally and theoretically. The temporal evolution of the liquid jet developed during bubble collapse, shock wave emission and the behavior of the "splash" effect are investigated by using high-speed photography with up to 5 million frames/second. For a full understanding of the bubble-boundary interaction, numerical simulations are conducted by using a boundary integral method with an incompressible liquid impact model. The results of the numerical calculations provided the pressure contours and the velocity vectors in the liquid surrounding the bubble as well as the bubble profiles. The comparisons between experimental and numerical data are favorable with regard to both bubble shape history and translational motion of the bubble. The results are discussed with respect to the mechanism of cavitation erosion. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.