Excimer-pumped alkali vapor lasers (XPALs) are a new class of photoassociation lasers which take advantage of the spectrally broad absorption profiles of alkali-rare gas collision pairs. In these systems, transient alkali-rare gas molecules are photopumped from the thermal continuum to a dissociative X2Σ+1/2 interaction potential, subsequently populating the n2P3/2 state of the alkali. The absorption profiles ≥5 nm and quantum efficiencies >98% have been observed in oscillator experiments, indicating XPAL compatibility with conventional high power laser diode arrays. An alternative technique for populating the n2P3/2 state is direct photoexcitation on the n2P3/2←n2S1/2 atomic transition. However, because the XPAL scheme employs an off-resonant optical pump, the strengths of resonantly-enhanced nonlinear processes are minimized. Additionally, the absorption coefficient may be adjusted by altering the number densities of the lasing species and/or perturbers, a valuable asset in the design of large volume, high power lasers. We present an overview of XPAL lasers and their operation, including the characteristics of recently demonstrated systems photopumped with a pulsed dye laser. Lasing has been observed in Cs at both 894 nm and 852 nm by pumping CsAr or CsKr pairs as well as in Rb at 795 nm by pumping RbKr. These results highlight the important role of the perturbing species in determining the strength and position of the excimer absorption profile. It is expected that similar results may be obtained in other gas mixtures as similar collision pair characteristics have historically been observed in a wide variety of transient diatomic species.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.