Low mowing increases ball roll distance on putting greens, but may affect growth and physiological responses to summer heat stress. The objective of this study was to examine whether the effect of mowing heights on turf summer performance was associated with changes in photosynthetic activities and respiration rate for two creeping bentgrass [Agrostis palustris (L.) Huds] cultivars, `Crenshaw' and `Penncross'. Both cultivars were grown under USGA-specification putting green conditions from 1997 to 1998. Grasses were mowed daily at a 3-mm (low mowing) or 4-mm (high mowing) height. Turf quality, net photosynthesis rate (Pn), and leaf photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) declined, whereas respiration rate of whole plants, canopy minus air temperature, and soil temperatures increased under low mowing compared to those at the high mowing height. The decline or increase in those parameters under low mowing was more pronounced in summer than in spring or fall months. The results showed that turf quality was better at the 4-mm mowing height, especially during summer months. Better quality at the higher mowing height could be related to the maintenance of higher photosynthetic activities and lower respiration rate. Mowing at the lower height had more adverse effects on turf growth and photosynthetic capacity for `Penncross' than `Crenshaw', particularly during summer months.