The injection performance of abrupt emitter HBT's and related effects on the device characteristics are studied by taking an Npn Al0.25Ga0.75 As/GaAs/GaAs HBT as an example. In order to take into account the coupled transport phenomena of drift-diffusion and tunneling-emission processes across the abrupt heterojunction in a single coupled formulation, a numerical technique based on the boundary condition approach is employed. Compared to previous numerical investigations relying on either a drift-diffusion or a tunneling-emission scheme, more complete and accurate characterization of abrupt emitter HBT's has been achieved in this study. It is demonstrated that the presence of abrupt discontinuities of the conduction and valence bands at the emitter-base junction brings several different features to the injection efficiency and recombination characteristics of abrupt emitter HBT's compared to graded emitter HBT's. Based on investigations of the emitter doping effects on the current drive capability and device gain, an optimum emitter doping density is determined for a given structure. When the emitter-base p-n junction of the abrupt emitter HBT is slightly displaced with respect to the heterojunction, significant changes in the electrical characteristics are observed. A small displacement of the p-n junction into the narrow bandgap semiconductor is found to be very attractive for the performance optimization of abrupt emitter HBT's.