The interaction of a laser-induced plasma with isotropic turbulence is studied using numerical simulations. The simulations use air as the working fluid and assume local thermodynamic equilibrium. The numerical method is fully spectral and uses a shock-capturing scheme in a corrector step. A model problem involving the effect of energy deposition on an isolated vortex is studied as a first step towards plasma/turbulence interaction. Turbulent Reynolds number Reλ = 30 and fluctuation Mach numbers Mt = 0.001 and 0.3 are considered. A tear-drop-shaped shock wave is observed to propagate into the background, and progressively become spherical in time. The turbulence experiences strong compression due to the shock wave and strong expansion in the core. This behaviour is spatially inhomogeneous and non-stationary in time. Statistics are computed as functions of radial distance from the plasma axis and angular distance across the surface of the shock wave. For Mt = 0.001, the shock wave propagates on a much faster time scale compared to the turbulence evolution. At Mt of 0.3, the time scale of the shock wave is comparable to that of the background. For both cases the mean flow is classified into shock formation, shock propagation and subsequent collapse of the plasma core, and the effect of turbulence on each of these phases is studied in detail. The effect of mean vorticity production on the turbulent vorticity field is also discussed. Turbulent kinetic energy budgets are presented to explain the mechanism underlying the transfer of energy between the mean flow and background turbulence. © 2010 Cambridge University Press.