Recent experiments to investigate the noise properties of He:Ne lasers operating close to threshold at 633 nm are described. In the first set of experiments transient fluctuations during the turn on of the laser were studied by means of the first-passage-time technique. In another set of experiments intensity fluctuations of a laser with a saturable absorber were investigated. Measurements of intensity fluctuations in both the bistable and tricrical regimes of operation were made. Finally the effects of multiplicative white noise due to pump parameter fluctuations were investigated by means of photon counting and correlation techniques. Implications of these results for other laser systems are also discussed.