We present a theoretical analysis of experimental photoluminescence spectra in highly excited semiconductor quantum wires. We show that the inclusion in the theory of electron-hole correlations strongly modifies the shape of emission spectra at any density. We discuss the role of these correlations in the evaluation of the band gap renormalization. The calculated energy- and density-dependence of the broadening agree qualitatively with the experimental results. The broadening is also comparable in magnitude to the band gap renormalization, implying the relevance of a combined self-consistent calculation of the two. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.