The results of the sulfur treatment of multiple-quantum-well (MQW) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with (NH4)2S and (NH4)2S+t-C4H9OH solutions prior to the deposition of a light-transmitting p-electrode metal are presented. The room-temperature I–V curves showed that the forward voltages of MQW LEDs treated with the two sulfur solutions decrease by 0.12 and 0.35 V at 20 mA, respectively, compared to the untreated MQW LED, as the result of an improvement in p-Ohmic contact characteristics. The relative light-output power and external quantum efficiency of MQW LEDs increased by a factor of 1.28 for the (NH4)2S treated sample and 2.23 for the (NH4)2S+t-C4H9OH treated sample compared to the untreated sample. In addition, the reverse leakage current characteristic of MQW LEDs was reduced as a result of sulfur treatment. This can be attributed to the passivation of surface and sidewall damages formed after the dry-etching process for a reliable pattern transfer. The present results indicate that the sulfur treatment greatly improves the electrical and optical performance of MQW LEDs. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.