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Mechanisms which determine the oscillating transverse and longitudinal modes in semiconductor injection lasers are discussed in this paper. The analysis is based on the semiclassical method in which the optical field is represented by Maxwell equations and the lasing phenomenon is analyzed quantum mechanically using the density matrix formalism. Guided modes are classified by the relation between refractive index and gain-loss differences at the boundaries of the active region as normal guided mode (index guiding), active-guided mode (gain guiding), and leaky mode (anti-index guiding). The guiding loss and cutoff conditions are given for these modes. The optimum range to obtain stable fundamental transverse mode operation is discussed with respect to several guiding factors, such as width of active region, the refractive index difference, and gain-loss differences at the boundaries of the active region. Longitudinal mode behavior is discussed in terms of electron transition mechanism in semiconductor crystals. The relaxation effect of the electron wave is introduced in this model. Profiles of the saturated gain and the spatial diffusion of the electron are related to this relaxation effect. Mode competition phenomena are analyzed, and a strong gain suppression among the longitudinal modes is shown to be as an intrinsic property of semiconductor lasers. The possibility of obtaining single longitudinal mode operation is postulated. Physical influences for stable single longitudinal mode operation are discussed in terms of transverse mode control (or stripe structure), spontaneous emission, threshold current level, impurity concentration in the active region, and direct modulation. Some experimental results are also given to support these analyses.