An element-selective laser ion source has been used to produce beams of exotic radioactive nuclei and to study their decay properties. The operational principle of the ion source is based on selective resonant laser ionization of nuclear reaction products thermalized and neutralized in a noble gas at high pressure. The ion source has been installed at the Leuven Isotope Separator On-Line (LISOL), which is coupled on-line to the cyclotron accelerator at Louvain-la-Neuve. Ni-54,Ni-55 and Co-54,Co-55 isotopes were produced in light-ion-induced fusion reactions. Exotic nickel, cobalt and copper nuclei were produced in proton-induced fission of U-238. The b decay of the Ni68-74, Co67-70, Cu70-75 and Rh110-114 isotopes has been studied by means of beta-gamma and gamma-gamma spectroscopy. Recently, the laser ion source has been used to produce neutron-deficient rhodium and ruthenium isotopes (Rh91-95, Rh-98, Ru-90,Ru-91) near the N = Z line in heavy ion-induced fusion reactions. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.