We present a theoretical model of the time-resolved excitonic photoluminescence in quantum wires. We study the role of disorder and of the exciton-free-carrier interaction on the temperature dependence of the photoluminescence lifetime. We find that at low temperature the exciton population is not thermalized in disordered quantum wires and that the lifetime is mainly determined by the localization length of the exciton. However, for large localization lengths or high enough temperatures the exciton population thermalizes within its lifetime and the temperature dependence becomes square-root-like. The inclusion of free carriers leads to an increase of the lifetime at high temperatures and to a quasiexponential temperature dependence.