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A model of the quantum well laser is formulated using Wigner functions whose evolution is governed by the quantum Boltzmann equations. This model incorporates the heterostructure potential and electromagnetic interactions using a classical field approximation, scattering processes by simple Boltzmann scattering, and spontaneous emission by quantum Langevin theory. The quantum Boltzmann equations are derived from Heisenberg’s equation of motion and then simplified for practical purposes. Calculations are performed for a simplified test system in the steady state in order to illustrate some numerical techniques as well as results that can be obtained. Results shown are for the electron and hole densities and the self-consistent heterostructure potential with and without electromagnetic coupling, the output power versus energy, and the electron and hole currents versus position for two applied bias potentials. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.