The design and fabrication of circular grating surface emitting lasers are presented. The influence of device parameters on the mode selection is described. The fabrication of an InGaAs/GaAs circular grating distributed Bragg reflector (DBR) laser is presented. Significant improvement is obtained by using a quantum-well structure with a multistack and an etch-stop layer. A threshold current as low as 15 mA and an output power in excess of 170 mW without saturation are obtained. The potential of circular grating DBR laser arrays for multiwavelength operation is demonstrated. © 1998 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.