Near-millimeter-wave (NMMW) gas lasers, which are optically excited with a CO2pump laser, are currently the major sources of coherent radiation in the NMMW region (100 to 1000 GHz). These molecular sources are especially useful at NMMW frequencies > 300 GHz where conventional millimeter-wave sources have serious disadvantages. Optically pumped NMMW lasers can provide tens of milliwatts of CW power of very high spectral purity or megawatts of pulsed power with a broader spectral bandwidth. The state of the art of these lasers, with an emphasis on CW operation, is reviewed. Included are discussions of basic principles of operation, design, and approaches to building laser systems with sufficient power and stability for useful application. Some of the uses of NMMW lasers and some current research efforts on these sources are described.