Ir, Ni, and Re Schottky contacts on strained Al0.25Ga0.75N/GaN heterostructures are characterized using capacitance–voltage (C–V) and I–V techniques. Based on the measured C–V characteristics, two dimensional electron gas sheet carrier concentrations at the AlGaN/GaN interface and barrier heights of Ir, Ni, and Re Schottky contacts are calculated. The barrier heights of 1.12, 1.27, and 1.68 eV are obtained for Ir, Ni, and Re Schottky contacts, respectively. The results show that the barrier heights of Schottky contacts on strained AlGaN/GaN heterostructures are strongly dependent on the metal work functions. However, contrary to Schottky contacts on bulk AlGaN or GaN, the barrier height on strained AlGaN/GaN heterostructures is lower for a Schottky contact with a higher metal work function. This is attributed to the stronger wave function coupling between electrons in the Schottky metal and surface donor electrons. The I–V characteristics for Ir, Ni, and Re Schottky contacts confirm the results obtained by C–V characteristics. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.