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Phase correlation leading to self-pulsation (SP) in semiconductor distributed Bragg reflector (DBR) lasers is investigated experimentally and theoretically. Under proper biasing conditions, the laser oscillates with three main modes and we observe that each two-modes beating provides SP with identical spectral linewidth. Under the same operating conditions, the measured spectral linewidths of the beating modes are much larger than the linewidth of the self-pulsating signal. These results demonstrate the natural occurrence of passive mode-locking (PML) and phase correlation in semiconductor DBR lasers. A model based on multimode coupled-wave rate equations, including four-wave mixing (FWM), is developed to describe PML and SP in the gain region of the laser cavity. This model demonstrates that the existence of phase correlation between longitudinal modes is due to FWM.