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New theoretical results are presented on polarized optical injection of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) based on the spin-flip model extended to consider both the azimuth and ellipticity of the injected light. Experiments to investigate these effects are performed on two 1550-nm VCSELs with different frequency spacing between the resonances of the orthogonal polarizations of the fundamental transverse mode. Excellent agreement is found between experiment and theory for the stability and polarizations of the two VCSELs subject to polarized optical injection. The input polarization angle has a strong effect on both the dynamics and polarization of each VCSEL, whereas the ellipticity of the injected light affects only the polarization.