We present a theoretical study of the physical characteristics of metal/semiconductor junctions. Using first principle pseudopotential calculations, we have investigated the nature of electronic states with energies within the semiconductor band gap of representative abrupt, defect-free, anion-terminated metal/III-V interfaces. Namely, we focused on Al contacts to GaAs(001), AlAs(001) and cubic GaN(001) as well as on Al, Au and Cu junctions to cubic GaN(001). Recent advances in Schottky barrier concepts emphasize the possible relationship between interface states and the formation of the Schottky barrier. We aim at understanding the atomic-scale mechanisms responsible for interface states as well as their role in the Schottky barrier formation process. At As-terminated Al/GaAs(001) and Al/AlAs(001) junctions, resonant and localized interface states occur at the J point of the interface 2D Brillouin zone near the Fermi energy in the semiconductor midgap region. They correspond to intermetallic bonds between the outermost cation atoms of the semiconductor and the interfacial Al atoms of the metal. These interface states derive from an interaction between localized states of the Al(001) surface and semiconductor conduction band states, mediated by localized states of the unreconstructed, As-terminated semiconductor (001) surface. Our results indicate that interface states of the intermetallic, bonding-like kind could play an important role in the transport properties of metal/AlxGa1-xAs junctions. We have also investigated the electronic structure of Al, Au and Cu junctions to cubic, N-terminated GaN(001). The localized interface state reported for As-terminated Al/GaAs(001) and Al/AlAs(001) junctions occurs also at metal/GaN interfaces under the condition that atoms on the outermost atomic plane of the metal are placed in front of the outermost semiconductor cation. This indicates that the formation mechanism of this state is a very general one. In contrast to Al/AlxGa1-xAs junctions, these states occur at energy much larger than EF for the contacts to GaN. Thus, they are not expected to contribute significantly to the electronic transport of the latter interfaces. However, a large number of interface states attributed to d-type orbitals occur over a wide energy range including EF at contacts of noble metals to GaN.