A reduced model is developed that has significant advantages over the full drift-diffusion model for the simulation of laser beam-induced current (LBIC) signals in the presence of heterojunctions. The model determines the contribution to the LBIC signal that would occur from photogeneration at any position within the semiconductor, and is particularly useful for heterostructures where judicious choice of illumination wavelength can result in photogeneration at different depths within the device structure. The reduced model is used to examine the basic features of LBIC as applied to two types of planar P-n HgCdTe heterojunction photodiode structures. In particular, the question of correctly identifying erroneous device structures formed during the fabrication process is addressed, and experimental measurements are presented to support the simulation results. (c) 2005 American Institute of Physics.