Current high power laser welding technology is reviewed. The nature of the beam-material interaction, the influence of laser, process and material parameters on welding response and the unique characteristics of the process are discussed. Examples are given of representative laser welding performance in ferrous and nonferrous alloys and selected illustrations are presented of weld mechanical properties. A relationship is noted for the dependence of maximum single-pass laser weld penetration on power and a range of laser welding applicability is delineated. Laser welding efficiency is identified and process advantages and disadvantages are compared. The potential for future utilization of lasers in welding is discussed.