This work discusses the temperature behavior of the various photoluminescence (PL) transitions observed in undoped, n- and p-doped GaN in the 9-300 K range. Samples grown using different techniques have been assessed. When possible, simple rate equations are used to describe the quenching of the transitions observed, in order to get a better insight on the mechanism involved. In undoped GaN, the temperature dependence of band edge excitonic lines is well described by assuming that the A exciton population is the leading term in the 50-300 K range. The activation energy for free exciton luminescence quenching is of the order of the A rydberg, suggesting that free hole release leads to nonradiative recombination. In slightly p-doped samples, the luminescence is dominated by acceptor related transitions, whose intensity is shown to be governed by free hole release. For high Mg doping, the luminescence at room temperature is dominated by blue PL in the 2.8-2.9 eV range, whose quenching activation energy is in the 60-80 meV range. We also discuss the temperature dependence of PL transitions near 3.4 eV, related to extended structural defects. (C) 1999 American Institute of Physics. [S0021-8979(99)05619-4].