This paper discusses two different modes of breakdown in the reverse-biased I-V characteristics observed generically in bipolar junction transistors (BJTs) with the base emitter shorted, showing an erratic behavior, in the presence of large displacement currents. Experimental observations related to reverse-biased collector junctions of BJTs, that exhibit two different states of breakdown when a fast voltage ramp is applied are presented. Numerical simulations of the transient behavior of avalanche injection in p n- n+ structures show that two very close breakdown states coexist. The mechanisms leading to the erratic behavior of the second breakdown are discussed. The jittery nature of the breakdown is attributed to the delay associated with the buildup of the electric field across the n- n+ junction. © 2005 American Institute of Physics.