A theoretical model of wavelength modulation spectroscopy that uses a laser diode on a Lorentzian absorption line is presented. This theory describes the general case of a current-modulated semiconductor laser, for which a combined intensity and frequency modulation with an arbitrary phase shift occurs. On the basis of this model, the effect of several modulation parameters on the detected signals is evaluated. Experimental signals measured on an absorption line of CO2 by use of a 2-μm distributed-feedback laser are also presented and validate this analysis. These experimental results agree with the calculated signals, confirming the relevance of the model.