OBJECTIVE : Subthreshold micropulse laser irradiation has been used for the treatment of retinal edema; however, there are few reports about the mechanism of its therapeutic effect. In this study, we compared threshold short pulse and subthreshold micropulse laser irradiation in mice and investigated their mechanism. METHODS : Nine to 12-week-old male C57BL/6J mice were used in this study. After general anesthesia, threshold short pulse or subthreshold micropulse laser irradiation was performed on the right eye using IQ577. Enucleation was performed 24 h after the laser irradiation, and histological and gene expression analyses were carried out. RESULTS : Coagulation spots and atrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium were observed after threshold short pulse laser irradiation but not after subthreshold micropulse laser irradiation. Twenty-four hours after laser, aquaporin (AQP) 1, 2, 7, and 11 levels were significantly elevated by 1.7- to 3-fold in the threshold short pulse laser group compared with non-treated control group. AQP 3 was increased significantly and prominently by 100-fold. VEGF-A and VEGFR2 were upregulated 1.5- and 2.3-fold, respectively. In the subthreshold micropulse laser group, AQP 3 was increased by 6-fold compared with the non-treated control group. Angiopoietin-1 and the adrenomedullin (AM) receptor CLR were decreased by 0.6-fold and 0.5-fold, respectively. CONCLUSIONS : Threshold short pulse laser irradiation caused retinal damage and prominent changes in the expression of various genes. Contrarily, subthreshold micropulse laser irradiation did not induce retinal damage; it upregulated AQP 3, which might have improved retinal edema by drainage of subretinal fluid.