Electronic chromatic dispersion compensation employing maximum-likelihood sequence estimation (MLSE) has recently been the topic of extensive research and a range of commercial products. It is well known that MLSE provides a considerable benefit for amplitude modulated modulation formats such as on-off keying (OOK) and optical duobinary. However, when applied to optical phase modulation formats, such as differential phase-shift keying (DPSK) and differential quadrature phase-shift keying (DQPSK), it has been shown that the benefit is only marginal. This paper investigates joint-decision MLSE (JD-MLSE) detection applied to 10.7-Gb/s DPSK. It demonstrates that a JD-MLSE using the constructive and destructive components preserves the 3-dB optical signal-to-noise ratio (OSNR) advantage of DPSK over OOK in dispersion-limited optical systems. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the use of a shortened MZDI with MLSE for the 10.7-Gb/s DPSK modulation can equalize an accumulated chromatic dispersion of 4000 ps/nm. In addition, we discuss in this paper different MLSE schemes applied to 2 × 10.7-Gb/s DQPSK modulation. It is shown that a joint-symbol MLSE (JS-MLSE) on the balanced outputs of the in-phase and quadrature components gives the best performance. © 2009 IEEE.