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The generalized photon-carrier rate-equation formalism is used to evaluate the carrier capture process in pseudomorphically strained wurtzite GaN quantum-well lasers. Our results show that both the carrier capture time and the carrier escape time vary significantly with the injected carrier density and strain-induced piezoelectric field. Thus, it is demonstrated that in place of the flatband conditions adopted in most treatments, a self-consistent adjustment of the carrier capture process is essential for achieving an accurate description of carrier dynamics in wurtzite GaN quantum-well lasers. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.