Transient photocurrents are investigated in ferroelectric lead zirconate titanate (PZT) films illuminated by laser pulses in the spectral range of 340-380 nm. At low electric fields, the photocurrent is sensitive to the ferroelectric polarization state and changes sign upon the polarization switching. At higher fields, the polarization-independent current proportional to the applied electric field is dominant. The spectral dependence of polarization-dependent current is controlled by the excitation of charge carriers over the forbidden band of PZT having a maximum near 3.5 eV. Possible mechanisms of the observed effect are discussed and the possibilities of a nondestructive read out of polarization state in the ultraviolet spectral range are demonstrated. (C) 1998 American Institute of Physics.