Metallic cavities can confine light to volumes with dimensions considerably smaller than the wavelength of light. It is commonly believed, however, that the high losses in metals are prohibitive for laser operation in small metallic cavities. Here we report for the first time laser operation in an electrically pumped metallic-coated nanocavity formed by a semiconductor heterostructure encapsulated in a thin gold film. The demonstrated lasers show a low threshold current and their dimensions are smaller than the smallest electrically pumped lasers reported so far. With dimensions comparable to state-of-the-art electronic transistors and operating at low power and high speed, they are a strong contender as basic elements in digital photonic very large-scale integration. Furthermore we demonstrate that metallic-coated nanocavities with modal volumes smaller than dielectric cavities can have moderate quality factors.