The temperature dependence of the photosynthetic parameters Vcmax, the maximum catalytic rate of the enzyme Rubisco, and Jmax, the maximum electron transport rate, were examined using published datasets. An Arrehenius equation, modified to account for decreases in each parameter at high temperatures, satisfactorily described the temperature response for both parameters. There was remarkable conformity in Vcmax and Jmax between all plants at Tleaf < 25 °C, when each parameter was normalized by their respective values at 25 °C (Vcmax0 and Jmax0), but showed a high degree of variability between and within species at Tleaf > 30 °C. For both normalized Vcmax and Jmax, the maximum fractional error introduced by assuming a common temperature response function is < ± 0·1 for most plants and < ± 0·22 for all plants when Tleaf < 25 °C. Fractional errors are typically < ± 0·45 in the temperature range 25–30 °C, but very large errors occur when a common function is used to estimate the photosynthetic parameters at temperatures > 30 °C. The ratio Jmax/Vcmax varies with temperature, but analysis of the ratio at Tleaf = 25 °C using the fitted mean temperature response functions results in Jmax0/Vcmax0 = 2·00 ± 0·60 (SD, n = 43).