Erbium-doped GaN (GaN:Er) epilayers were synthesized by metal organic chemical vapor deposition. GaN:Er waveguides were fabricated based on four different GaN:Er layer structures: GaN:Er/GaN/Al2O3, GaN:Er/GaN/AlN/Al2O3, GaN:Er/GaN/Al0.75Ga 0.25N/AlN/Al2O3, and GaN/GaN:Er/GaN/Al 2O3. Optical loss at 1.54 μm in these waveguide structures has been measured. It was found that the optical attenuation coefficient of the GaN:Er waveguide increases almost linearly with the GaN (002) x-ray rocking curve linewidth. The lowest measured loss was ∼6 dB/cm.