Intracavity Laser Absorption Spectroscopy (ICLAS) at IR wavelengths offers an opportunity for spectral sensing with sufficient sensitivity to detect vapors of low vapor pressure compounds such as explosives. Reported here are key enabling technologies for this approach, including multi-mode external-cavity quantum cascade lasers and a scanning Fabry-Perot spectrometer to analyze the laser mode spectrum in the presence of a molecular intracavity absorber. Reported also is the design of a compact integrated data acquisition and control system. Applications include military and commercial sensing for threat compounds, chemical gases, biological aerosols, drugs, and banned or invasive plants or animals, bio-medical breath analysis, and terrestrial or planetary atmosphere science.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.