Optical manipulation of disclinations and defects in liquid crystal films was demonstrated and discussed in terms of mass transfer induced by radiation pressure and of molecular rotation under the optical electric field. Orientation of liquid crystal molecules was controlled by changing the polarization direction of a focused cw laser beam. A disclination line could be deformed by moving the focal spot, just like drawing a bow. A point defect followed the laser beam so that it could be freely transported in the film. When two disclination points were optically manipulated to become fused, the defects disappeared immediately and did not return after switching off the laser. (C) 1997 American Institute of Physics.