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In high current and power density applications of AlGaAs/GaAs heterojunction bipolar transistors (HBT's), reliability is a critical issue. Therefore, in this letter we show results of a fundamental investigation on the temperature and current dependence of the fast initial rise of the dc-current gain (burn-in), which takes place during stress at current densities beyond those of today's applications. We find that the burn-in occurs at lower device junction temperatures (135/spl deg/C) than previously reported in literature, and that it depends linearly on the current density. An activation energy of 0.4 eV is extracted for the burn-in effect.