Although photoluminescence from gallium-arsenide (GaAs) deep-centers was first observed in the 1960s, semiconductor lasers have always utilized conduction-to-valence-band transitions. Here we review recent materials studies leading to the first GaAs deep-center laser. First, we summarize well-known properties: nature of deep-center complexes, Franck-Condon effect, hotoluminescence. Second, we describe our recent work: insensitivity of photoluminescence with heating, striking differences between electroluminescence and photoluminescence, correlation between transitions to deep-states and absence of bandgap-emission. Room-temperature stimulated-emission from GaAs deep-centers was observed at low electrical injection, and could be tuned from the bandgap to half-the-bandgap (900–1,600 nm) by changing the electrical injection. The first GaAs deep-center laser was demonstrated with electrical injection, and exhibited a threshold of less than 27 mA/cm2 in continuous-wave mode at room temperature at the important 1.54 μ
m fiber-optic wavelength. This small injection for laser action was explained by fast depopulation of the lower state of the optical transition (fast capture of free holes onto deep-centers), which maintains the population inversion. The evidence for laser action included: superlinear L-I curve, quasi-Fermi level separations satisfying Bernard-Duraffourg’s criterion, optical gains larger than known significant losses, clamping of the optical-emission from lossy modes unable to reach laser action, pinning of the population distribution during laser action.