The rapid emergence of semiconductor lasers as a viable source is discussed and the problems relating to incorporation of diode lasers into systems are addressed. The characteristics which give rise to significant engineering challenges such as collimating, focusing, temperature stabilization and its effect on wavelength, modulation and stable current requirements will be identified and solutions offered. A turnkey diode laser system, the Diolite 800, is reviewed and its applicability to R&D and prototype use is pointed out. Off the shelf laser diode drivers (LDD's), collimating optics and thermoelectric coolers are mentioned and specific examples will be given.© (1987) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.