Using a simple rate equation approach we examine the gas kinetic and discharge properties of waveguide CO2lasers. We calculate the dependence of the population inversion and laser small-signal gain on gas pressure, gas mixture, pumping rate (discharge current), tube bore diameter, and wall temperature. The results indicate, for example, that at a pressure of 50 torr and a tube-bore diameter of 0.125 cm, the gain is optimized with a gas mixture in the ratio CO2:N2:He of 1:0.75: 1.5. At higher pressures the gain is optimized by using more helium-rich mixtures. We also calculate the dependence of laser tunability on the gas kinetic properties and cavity losses. We find that for low-loss cavities the laser tunability may substantially exceed the molecular full width at half-maximum. Furthermore, the more helium-rich gas mixtures give greater tunability when cavity losses are small, and less tunability when cavity losses are large. The roles of the various gases in the waveguide CO2laser are the same as those in conventional devices. By contrast with conventional lasers, however, the waveguide laser transition is homogeneously broadened. Thus the dependence of gain on gas pressure and other kinetic properties differs substantially from that predicted by scaling results from conventional low-pressure lasers.