The feasibility of using a magnetoresistive magnetic head to determine the flash temperature of intermittent magnetic head/disk contacts is investigated. A finite difference model is developed to study the effects of the magnetoresistive sensor height, the contact power intensity and the contact duration on the temperature response characteristics of the magnetoresistive sensor. A pulsed neody-minum:yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser is used as the heat source to simulate the contact and verify the model. The simulation results agree well with the theoretical model. Based on the theoretical model and laser simulation, a temperature sensitivity coefficient ζ is proposed to determine the surface temperature rise.