If light is diffracted by ultrasound in an isotropic medium with acoustically induced birefringence, the state of polarization is modified in each order of diffraction with respect to the initial state of polarization of the incident light wave. In the present paper, some polarization effects are discussed in the case of normal light incidence. In general a rotation of the main polarization plane occurs, together with a change of the ellipticity. However, while the former effect always takes place, the latter only occurs in the case of ultrasonic light diffraction of the intermediate type. Some experimental measurements are included in case of argon laser light being diffracted by an ultrasonic wave propagating in fused silica (SiO2). (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.