Theoretical analysis of second-order surface-emitting, complex-coupled distributed feedback diode lasers with first-order distributed Bragg reflectors (DBR) is presented. The DBR reflectors are shown to insure simultaneous operation in a virtually uniform near-field profile with high efficiency and adequate intermodal discrimination. Such devices display symmetric-mode (single-lobe) surface emission with relatively high external differential quantum efficiency (30%), low gain threshold (18 cm−1), and <8% near-field intensity profile variations (in the longitudinal direction). The devices have the potential to provide >100 mW of stable, single-mode cw power, significantly higher than it is possible with vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers. It is also shown that the device studied here can be combined with a resonant optical waveguide array device to produce a 2D uniform near-field surface-emitting source capable of providing greater than 1 W cw power in a stable, single-lobed beam. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.