The influence of emitter ledge length on the performance of InGaP/GaAs heterojunction bipolar transistors is comprehensively investigated. Due to the band-bending effect at the intersection of the emitter ledge edge with the exposed base surface, an undesired potential saddle point is formed. Moreover, emitter ledge passivations that are longer or shorter than an optimal length result in the deterioration of device performance. Based on the theoretical analysis and experimental results, the surface recombination effect of the device with an emitter ledge length of 0.8 μm is negligible compared with the unpassivated device. Also, the device with the emitter ledge length of 0.8 μm shows nearly the best dc characteristics and acceptable rf performance. Therefore, the optimum emitter ledge length in this study is near 0.8 μm.