This paper reviews the basic discharge physics and procedures that have been used to pulse excite gas lasers. A variety of different discharge schemes have been implemented over the past thirty years to volumetrically excite high pressure discharges with cross sections ranging from 102 iO cm2 and lengths of 102 lO3cm. The associated energy outputs derived from these systems range, in the case of C02 lasers, from lO — 106 J/pulse. The techniques use transverse excitation and have been successfully applied to a wide variety of gases and mixture with lasing outputs extending from the vacuum ultraviolet to the long-wave infrared. The various schemes have been adapted to provide effective discharge excitations lasting from iO —iO seconds. The short excitations have been applied to miniature and traveling wave preionization stabilized discharges and the long pulses to large cross section high energy devices. The paper will focus exclusively on discharge excitation and stability issues and relevant discharge related kinetics. It will not specifically address issues relating to laser extraction, repetitively pulsed operation and the associated problems of thermal control, flow management and acoustics dumping. The review provides a somewhat parochial perspective in that it reflects my own personal contributions to this field and my direct association with lasers covering this size distribution and associated energy range. The parochialism is reflected mainly in the representative devices I have selected for the paper. The paper is presented in six parts. This introduction is followed by a brief review of the relevant discharge physics of high pressure discharges. The next three sections separately address and provide specific properties and examples of each category. The paper concludes with a brief summary.