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In many applications it is important to optimize the power conversion efficiency of semiconductor lasers and laser arrays. A method for calculating this efficiency which takes into account temperature effects is described, and some calculated results are presented and discussed. It is found that under certain conditions, a small increase in the thermal resistance of the device can result in a large reduction of its efficiency. Temperature effects are important in high-power semiconductor lasers, and in particular in laser arrays, where low thermal resistance heat sinking may be crucial to the device operation.