Effects of apodization on distributed feedback fiber laser (DFB FL) output power and threshold gain are theoretically investigated by employing the transfer matrix method. Three distinct types of profile are investigated: the gaussian, flat or nonapodize, and sigmoid profile. The gaussian and sigmoid profiles are the two extreme cases examined; the former has a strong profile around a centrally located phase shift, while the latter is with a weaker profile. Findings indicate that the tradeoff between output power and higher order mode threshold performance are resulting from the interplay between these profile shapes. The comprehensive results presented in this paper should assist the development of high performance DFB FLs.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.