Abstract The Yb 3+-doped silicate, phosphate and borophosphate laser glasses were prepared by means of conventional melt quenching technology. The physical and spectral properties of the glasses were investigated. The results show that, due to the existence of OH −, the fluorescence lifetime of phosphate glass is shorter than that of silicate glass, so silicate glass has better spectral properties than phosphate glass. Silicate glass has better mechanical and thermal properties than phosphate glass, but with the addition of B 2O 3, mechanical and thermal properties of phosphate glass are improved greatly without fluorescence quenching effect. This kind of borophosphate glass can be used in high average power solid state lasers.