High power, 0.81-μm-emitting, semiconductor diode lasers are used as pump sources for Nd:YAG solid-state lasers. Devices (1-mm-long) consisting of a InGaAsP/In0.5(Ga0.9Al0.1)0.5P/In0.5(Ga0.5Al0.5)0.5P laser structure provide a threshold-current density, Jth, of 290 A/cm2 and a relatively high threshold-current characteristic temperature, T0 (140 K). Uncoated diode lasers (1.2-mm-long) have a maximum continuous wave output power of 5 W (both facets) at 20 °C. The internal power density at catastrophic optical mirror damage (COMD), P¯COMD, is determined to be 9.1 MW/cm2; that is, 1.8 times that for GaAs-active layer, Al-free, uncoated devices. Coated, InGaAsP-active devices are expected to have P¯COMD=18 MW/cm2, more than twice the P¯COMD of AlGaAs-active, 0.81-μm-emitting devices with the same emitting aperture. Therefore, 0.81-μm-emitting, InGaAsP-active diode lasers should operate reliably at powers at least twice those of AlGaAs-based devices with the same contact-stripe geometry. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.