We describe a systematic procedure that uses experimental and numerical methods to analyze the continuous-wave power performance of diode end-pumped solid-state lasers. For the general case, saturation, excited-state absorption, and thermal lensing effects are considered and integral equations are derived to study the evolution of the pump and laser beams in the gain medium. As an application of the method, we consider two different diode end-pumped lasers operating at 1064 and 1342 nm. Experimental efficiency data were first analyzed to determine the stimulated emission cross sections and the resonator losses. The best-fit laser parameters were then used to calculate the optimum crystal length that maximizes the output power of the laser. The described method should prove useful in the design of a wide range of efficient diode-pumped solid-state lasers. © 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.