A general small-signal theory of the avalanche noise in IMPATT diodes is presented. The theory is applicable to structures of arbitrary doping profile and uses realistic (alpha neq betain Si) ionization coefficients. The theory accounts in a self-consistent manner for space-charge feedback effects in the avalanche and drift regions. Two single-diffusedn-pdiodes of identical doping profile, one of germanium and the other of silicon, are analyzed in detail. For description of the noise of the diodes as small-signal amplifiers the noise measureMis used. Values forMof 20 dB are obtained in germanium from effects in the depletion region only, i.e., when parasitic end region resistance is neglected. Inclusion of an assumed parasitic end resistance of one ohm for a diode of area 10-4cm2produces the following noise measure at an input power of 5×104W/cm2, and at optimum frequency: germanium 25 dB, silicon 31 dB. For comparison, a noise figure of 30 dB has been reported  for a germanium structure of the same doping profile as used in the calculations. Measurements of silicon diodes of the same doping profile are not available, but typically silicon diodes give 6-8 dB higher noise figures than germanium diodes of comparable doping profile.