Evaluate the current role of lasers in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The results of a MEDLINE search for randomised trials and case series of the last 5 yr and published review articles were analysed for the safety and efficacy of neodymium:yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG), potassium-titanyl-phosphate (KTP), and holmium (Ho):YAG laser prostatectomy. The analysis includes 12 reports on randomised clinical trials, 2 comparative studies, 10 review articles, and a total of >5000 patients. Laser treatment of BPH has evolved from coagulation to enucleation. Blood loss is significantly reduced compared with transurethral resection and open prostatectomy. Visual laser ablation of the prostate and interstitial laser coagulation cause coagulative necrosis with secondary ablation. Long postoperative catheterisation, unpredictable outcomes, and high reoperation rates have restricted the use of these techniques. Ablative/vaporising techniques have become popular again with the marketing of new high-powered 80-W KTP and 100-W Ho lasers. Vaporisation immediately removes obstructing tissue. Short-term results are promising, but large series, long-term results, and randomised trials are lacking. Holmium laser enucleation (HoLEP) allows whole lobes of the prostate to be removed, mimicking the action of the index finger in open prostatectomy. Prostates of all sizes can be operated on. It is at least as safe and effective as transurethral resection of the prostate and open prostatectomy, with significantly lower morbidity. It is the only laser procedure that provides a specimen for histologic evaluation. HoLEP appears to be a size-independent new "gold standard" in the surgical treatment of BPH.