The subject of surface leakage and passivation in spectrometers fabricated in high pressure Bridgman CdZnTe crystals with evaporated gold contacts has been examined. The surface leakage has been found to be the dominant mechanism of dark current leakage in metal–semiconductor–metal detectors with noninjecting contacts. Several passivation techniques have been examined with various degrees of success in terms of reducing the mean value and the power spectral density of dark noise characteristics. An insulating polymer was applied on the bare surface reducing the total leakage current by the factor of 6–7, while favorably affecting the dark noise spectral density by decreasing the corner frequency of the low frequency noise. However, a considerable surface leakage has been observed even in these apparently passivated spectrometers. A three terminal device with iso-potential high voltage contacts has been fabricated and tested, exhibiting a reduction of the total dark current leakage by approximately two orders of magnitude. With this three terminal design, the bulk resistivity of typical high pressure Bridgman crystals is correctly determined and found to be ∼ 2⋅1011 Ω⋅cm. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.