Gas exchange of Pinus sylvestris L. was studied in subarctic field conditions. Aspects on optimal control of the gas exchange were examined using approach by Hari et al. (Tree Phys. 2: 169–175, 1986). Biochemical model by Farquhar et al. (Planta 149: 78–90, 1980) was utilized to describe the photosynthetic production rate of needles. The model parameters were determined from field measurements. The results from the optimization approach and biochemical model were compared and their performance was found quite similar in terms of R2 calculated using measured exchange rates (0.89 for optimization model and 0.85 for biochemical model). Minor differences were found in relation to responses to intercellular carbon dioxide concentration and temperature.