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Three types of two-terminal CdS nanowire devices with distinct current versus voltage characteristics were fabricated by forming Schottky and/or Ohmic contacts in a controlled manner. Argon ion bombardment of CdS nanowires increased the carrier concentration allowing the formation of Ohmic Ti–CdS contacts. Scanning photocurrent microscopy (SPCM) was used to explore the influence of the contacts on the spatially resolved photoresponse in two-terminal devices and to analyze charge carrier transport processes. Modeling of the spatial profiles of the local photocurrent images enabled the quantitative extraction of electron and hole mobility-lifetime products in Ohmic devices and the hole mobility-lifetime product in Schottky devices. Analysis of the evolution of SPCM images with bias suggests that the electric field is localized to the optical generation region in the Ohmic devices and localized beneath the contacts in the Schottky devices.