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Photopumped laser action and photoluminescence (PL) in HgCdTe layers grown by metalorganic chemical vapor deposition on (211) oriented CdTe substrates were studied as a function of temperature in the wavelength range 2.5–3.3 μm. Lasing was observed up to 160 K. External quantum efficiency of 5% and single‐mirror peak power of 14 mW were measured at 12 K for a 500‐μm‐long device. The external quantum efficiency was measured for different laser cavity lengths and the results were used to derive the internal efficiency and the laser loss. HgCdTe layers covered with a CdTe cap layer exhibited a lower PL intensity and laser devices with higher threshold.