The fcharacteristics of 1.55 mum Er-doped superfluorescent fiber sources (SFS's), intended for fiber-optic gyroscope (FOG) applications, are explored theoretically and experimentally. With proper selection of the source configuration, fiber length, pump wavelength, pump power, and fiber composition, we show that it is possible to meet the stringent requirements of the FOG, including a high output power, broad emission bandwidth, and excellent spectral thermal stability. Variations of the mean wavelength, spectral width, and output power of the SFS with fiber length, pump power, pump wavelength, and temperature are modeled for representative sources pumped near 980 nm or 1.48 mum, and are shown to be in good agreement with experimental results. The effects of a multimoded pump, erbium ion pair, and optical feedback are also assessed. This study indicates that the Er-doped SFS is an excellent candidate for the FOG and for other applications requiring spatial coherence and low temporal coherence.