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Gain/current curves for a single quantum well are calculated. The optimum well number, cavity length, threshold current, and current density of multi-quantum-well (MQW) lasers are derived in terms of this gain curve. The limiting performance of MQW lasers is found to be better than that of graded refractive index (GRIN) lasers, assuming comparable efficiencies and spontaneous emission linewidths. The optimum threshold current for an MQW laser with a 7 μm cavity and 90 percent facet reflectivity is A/μm.