We have observed a large nonresonant third-order nonlinear susceptibility, X(3) (-ω; ω, 0, 0) in the isotropic phase of a nematic liquid crystal 4′-n-hexyl-4-cyanobiphenyl (K18). The highest value of X(3) obtained at 632.8 nm is 1.16274×10-18 m2V-2 corresponding to a temperature 29.3°C. The observed second-order pretransitional temperature T* from our measurements is 1.2°C below the first-order nematic to isotropic transition temperature. The dependence of the Kerr constant on (T-T*)-1 is found to be in good agreement with the predictions of the Landau-de Gennes model. © 1993 Chapman & Hall.