In the last years, photodarkening in ytterbium doped silica based laser fibers turned out to be a critical factor for high power laser action. Several investigations have been carried out in order to characterize the time dependent increase of the fiber loss and to understand and model the complex optical phenomenon. Despite of progress in this field, there is still a lack of data concerning the detailed influence of fiber composition and preparation process parameters as well as concerning the role of atomic defects in the core glass. Here we report on investigations about the photodarkening in dependence on the glass composition of the fiber laser core. By MCVD, fibers with different codopants (additional to the active ytterbium doping) have been prepared in a well-defined manner, regarding process parameters and glass composition, and comprehensively characterized. In addition to the photodarkening measurements, further optical properties have been measured on the fibers and fiber performs, which are related to the photodarkening effect: intensity and spectral behaviour of the Yb3+ absorption and emission in the NIR, cooperative visible fluorescence, UV absorption and UV excited visible emission. The concentration of codopants which are commonly used for active and passive lightguide fibers (aluminium, germanium, phosphorus) was systematically varied and correlated with the optical properties.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.