Pulsed laser deposition (PLD) of materials is a growing field with applications to many systems. With many materials, however, a major problem is particulate formation due to splashing of molten droplets or ablation of solid clusters from the target. For the case of II–VI semiconductors we have found that careful selection of the laser power density and appropriate mastering of the beam could reduce particulate formation to a negligible level even with the use of pressed targets. In this work we have deposited a number of II–VI semiconductors and their alloys, using XeCl and Nd:YAG lasers, from pressed and bulk targets onto various substrates in high vacuum. The ternaries of ZnTe and ZnSe as well as of ZnTe and CdTe were studied in detail. We determined the optimum growth temperatures and deposition rates for the growth of optical quality films. X-ray diffraction, optical absorption, energy-dispersive X-ray analysis and Raman scattering were used to characterise these films or grain size and orientation, optical band gap and alloy effects on photon bands.