A theoretical analysis of the noise performance of optical receivers with front-end tuning, suitable for wideband coherent systems, is presented. An algorithm for choosing the values of the tuning components in the front end so as to minimize the thermal noise output power has been developed. This theory is applied to the well-known simple parallel and serial tuning configurations and also to three more advanced designs. It is shown that any tuning is better than none in wide-bandwidth designs, and that the more advanced designs yield up to 12-dB reduction in thermal noise power. Two of the designs can be implemented with discrete components and should yield shot-noise-limited detection with 50-100 microW of local oscillator power in receivers with 5-GHz bandwidth. The practical problem of equalizing the front-end response is considered, and it is shown that good performance can be expected using realizable components.