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The paper gives the results of an experimental and theoretical investigation of GaAlAs/GaAs oxidestripe lasers under high-pulsed-power conditions. At a pulsewidth of 18 ns the best samples delivered optical powers of more than 2 W per facet. The kink-free light/current characteristics, the well-behaved far-fields and the very-small-amplitude jitter in the optical pulse indicate a stable operation in the fundamental lateral mode up to the maximum power level. The maximum available power is found to vary less than the inverse square root of the pulse width between 20 ns and 1 Â¿s. Catastrophic failure of these lasers is always accompanied with damage to one or both of the Al2O3-coated mirrors. The experimental power-law dependence and the distinct levels of power limit for lasers with differently prepared mirrors can be explained by a model which assumes a heat source in the mirror plane originating from nonradiative carrier recombination at the surface.