Temperature-response curves for photosynthesis and respiration are useful in predicting the ability of plants to perform under different environmental conditions. Whole crop CO2 exchange rates of three magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora L.) cultivars (`MGTIG', `Little Gem', and `Claudia Wannamaker') were measured over a 25 °C temperature range. Plants were exposed to cool temperatures (13 °C day, 3 °C night) temperatures before the measurements. Net photosynthesis (Pnet) of all three cultivars increased from 3 to 15 °C and decreased again at higher temperatures. `MGTIG' had the highest and `Little Gem' the lowest Pnet, irrespective of temperature. The Q10 (relative increase in the rate of a process with a 10 °C increase in temperature) for Pnet of all three cultivars decreased over the entire temperature range. `MGTIG' had the lowest Q10 at low temperatures (1.4 at 8 °C), while `Little Gem' had the lowest Q10 for Pnet at temperatures >17 °C and a negative Q10 > 23 °C. This indicates a rapid decline in Pnet of `Little Gem' at high temperatures. The decrease in Pnet of all three cultivars at temperatures >15 °C was caused mainly by an exponential increase in dark respiration (Rdark) with increasing temperature. `Little Gem' had a lower Rdark (per unit fresh mass) than `MGTIG' or `Claudia Wannamaker', but all three cultivars had a similar Q10 (2.46). Gross photosynthesis (Pgross) was less sensitive to temperature than Pnet and Rdark. The optimal temperature for Pgross of `MGTIG' was lower (19 °C) than those of `Little Gem' (21 °C) and `Claudia Wannamaker' (22 °C). The Q10 for Pgross decreased with increasing temperature, and was lower for `MGTIG' than for `Little Gem' and `Claudia Wannamaker'. All three cultivars had the same optimal temperature (11 °C) for net assimilation rate (NAR), and NAR was not very sensitive to temperature changes from 3 to 17 °C. This indicates that the plants were well-adapted to their environmental conditions. The results suggest that respiration rate may limit magnolia growth when temperatures get high in winter time.