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An overview is given of the direct modulation performance of high-speed semiconductor lasers. The high-speed response characteristics are described using a cascaded two-port model of the laser. This model separates the electrical parasitics from the intrinsic laser and enables these subsections to be considered separately. The presentation concentrates on the small-signal intensity modulation and frequency modulation responses, and the large-signal switching transients and chirping. Device-dependent limitations on high-speed performance are explored and circuit modeling techniques are briefly reviewed.