The Pathet Lao (Lao: ປະເທດລາວ, "Lao Nation") was a communist political movement and organization in Laos, formed in the mid-20th century. The group was ultimately successful in assuming political power in 1975, after the Laotian Civil War. The Pathet Lao were always closely associated with Vietnamese communists. During the civil war, it was effectively organized, equipped and even led by the Army of North Vietnam. They fought against the anti-communist forces in the Vietnam War.
The Pathet Lao were the Laotian equivalent of South Vietnam's Viet Minh and later Viet Cong, and Cambodia's Khmer Rouge. Eventually, the term became the generic name for Laotian communists.