This issue of MRS Bulletin presents a review of the progress that vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) have made throughout the wavelength spectrum. A VCSEL is a semiconductor laser diode in which light propagates normal to the epitaxial layers. In its older cousin, the Fabry—Pérot laser, light propagates in the plane of the epitaxial layers and reflects from mirrors formed by cleaving a crystal facet across the active layers. No cleaving is required for VCSEL mirrors, which are formed from multiple layers of epitaxially grown or otherwise-deposited thin films. The simple twist in the direction of the laser beam with respect to the epitaxial layers is responsible for most of the unique attributes of VCSELs, which arise from their short cavity length, their completely lithographically defined cross section, and their reliance on only wafer-scale processes for device fabrication. The articles in this issue cover a range of topics, including blue devices, short-wavelength communications lasers, recent advances in 1.3-μm VCSELs, fundamental materials issues related to distributed Bragg reflectors, theoretical quantum-well gain calculations, and work on quantum-dot VCSELs.