Optical resonance modes have been observed in optically pumped microdisk cavities fabricated from 50 Å/50 Å GaN/AlxGa1-xN(x∼0.07) and 45 Å/45 Å InxGa1-xN/GaN(x∼0.15) multiple quantum well structures. Microdisks, approximately 9 μm in diameter and regularly spaced every 50 μm, were formed by an ion beam etch process. Individual disks were pumped at 300 and 10 K with 290 nm laser pulses focused to a spot size much smaller than the disk diameter. Optical modes corresponding to (i) the radial mode type with a spacing of 49–51 meV (both TE and TM) and (ii) the Whispering Gallery mode with a spacing of 15–16 meV were observed in the GaN microdisk cavities. The spacings of these modes are consistent with those expected for modes within a resonant cavity of cylindrical symmetry, refractive index, and dimensions of the microdisks under investigation. The GaN-based microdisk cavity is compared with its GaAs counterpart and implications regarding future GaN-based microdisk lasers are discussed. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.