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Results of a study of the electrical derivative chartacteristics of 1.3‐μm InGaAsP buried heterostructure lasers with rectifying (nonlinear) electrical contacts are presented. A physical device model and an equivalent circuit model, including a metal‐semiconductor contact, have been developed. This model is also appropriate to light emitting diodes and photodiodes. Solutions for the electrical derivative characteristics, dv/di and i dv/di vs i, of the equivalent circuit model are obtained and used to calculate the characteristics of 1.3‐μm InGaAsP buried heterostructure lasers both with and without a rectifying contact. The calculated electrical derivative characteristics are compared to measured data for our lasers. Excellent agreement between measured and modeled characteristics is obtained and the analysis is shown to be useful for extracting detailed metal‐semiconductor and p‐n junction characteristics with high accuracy. The physical basis for nonlinear contacts to optoelectronic devices made from relatively wide band‐gap semiconductors such as InP and InGaAsP is described. The results of this study are useful for characterization, modeling, failure mode analysis, and process control improvement of these devices.