The authors demonstrate ultra-low-threshold, optically pumped, surface-emitting lasing from MBE-grown resonators containing In0.2Ga0.8As/GaAs strained quantum well active layers and GaAs/AlAs mirrors. The emission wavelength ranged from approximately 0.98 to 1.0 μm in the two samples grown, and it varied with position on the samples. The lasing threshold was 50 pJ on an estimated area of 30 μm2. The single-mode emission linewidth just above threshold was 1 nm. At high pump energies the observed spectrum (time-integrated) was broadened toward short wavelengths mainly due to dynamic tuning of the cavity. The threshold carrier density was estimated to be 5 × 1012 cm-2/well using a 30-μm2 spot area and 25-pJ absorbed energy. The threshold current density for these structures is 20 μA/μm2 if they are pumped electrically. Nonlinear optical switching at 1.06 μm with a 5:1 contrast was achieved with a 20-pJ, 0.9-μm pump.