A new model is used to examine the DC output characteristics of AlGaN/GaN heterostructure field effect transistors. The model is based on the charge-control/gradual-channel approximation and takes into account the non-linear current vs. voltage characteristics of the ungated AlGaN/GaN heterostructure channel regions. The model also includes thermal effects associated with device self-heating. For the power dissipation levels considered for many applications, the thermal degradation of the carrier drift velocity is shown to cause a negative output conductance in saturation. The temperature is incorporated self-consistently into the model through the field and temperature dependent mobility obtained from Monte Carlo transport simulations for electron transport in GaN. Calculated results presented for the DC output characteristics of several AlGaN/GaN field effect transistors show a strong dependence on the thermal properties of the substrate material. The substrate materials considered in this work are sapphire, SiC, AlN, and GaN.