The development of high performance line-of-sight optical communication links through the turbulent atmosphere is facilitated by laboratory tests of schemes involving adaptive optics, beam tracking, modulation and coding, aperture averaging, fading statistics, and transmitter/receiver diversity. A water-filled turbulence tube has been implemented to simulate, in some respects, the effects produced on a laser beam when it propagates several kilometers through the air. This tube is being used to investigate on a laboratory scale: aperture averaging, fluctuation statistics, optical path difference, high data rate modulation, and various coding schemes. The liquid- filled turbulence tube causes fluctuations on a slower time scale than does the atmosphere. At low turbulence levels it produces log-normal fluctuation statistics, causes tip-tilt errors similar to those previously observed for atmospheric paths, and has already allowed evaluation of aperture averaging and fade statistics. It also allows the testing of various technological schemes to deal with atmospheric turbulence effects without any specific assumptions, such as weak Kolmogorov turbulence, being built into the model.