Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L., cv. Carioca and cv. Negro Huasteco) and cowpea plants (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp cv. Epace 10) were grown in a growth chamber with PPF at leaf level of 200 mumol.m-2.s-1 and air temperature 25 + 1 oC. The first fully expanded pair of leaves of 12-day-old plants was submitted to high temperature stress (25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 48 oC) for 1.5 h. The photochemical efficiency of PSII during recovery was monitored by means of chlorophyll a fluorescence at six different times (0.5, 1, 2, 4, 24, and 48 h) after stress, at 25 oC, using a modulated fluorimeter. Increasing temperature promoted an increase in Fphi at 45 oC, possibly associated with dissociation of the light harvesting complex from the reaction centre of PSII, but a decrease was observed at 48 oC in all cultivars. Fmax decreased at 48 oC in Carioca and Negro Huasteco, but not in Epace 10, showing a possible correlation between heat tolerance and Fmax for this cultivar. The low values of Fmax in Carioca and Negro Huasteco indicated a loss of PSII activity followed by death of these plants. Fv/Fmax did not vary in Epace 10 but varied in Carioca and Negro Huasteco with increasing temperatures.