An efficient phenomenological model describing the temperature dependence of the output power of multiquantum well (MQW) lasers is presented. The model can predict all the general features of the experimental results. The effect of series resistance, thermal resistance, cavity length, leakage current, and facet reflectivity on the maximum achievable power are analyzed in a systematic manner. The calculated maximum operating temperature (Tm), defined as the heat sink temperature at which the saturated output power vanishes due to heating, is in reasonable agreement with reported experimental results. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.