We compare the degradation of InAs/GaAs quantum well (QW) and quantum dot (QD) laser diodes following irradiation by high energy (8.56 MeV) phosphorous ions. Over a fluence range of 108–1011 ions/cm2, the degradation of the low temperature QD photoluminescence and electroluminescence emission is greatly suppressed relative to that of QW based devices (×100 and ×1000, respectively at the highest dose studied). Irradiated QD laser diodes demonstrated lasing action over the entire range of fluences, and 2 orders of magnitude beyond the maximum dose sustainable by QW devices. The improved damage response of QD based structures results from efficient collection and localization of electrons and holes by QDs in the active region, which limit carrier transfer to nonradiative centers. This work suggests the suitability of QD device architectures for use in radiation environments, and in high power applications, wherever nonradiative processes promote the degradation or failure of traditional QW devices. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.