Net primary production (NPP) was measured in seven black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP)-dominated sites comprising a boreal forest chronosequence near Thompson, Man., Canada. The sites burned between 1998 and 1850, and each contained separate well- and poorly drained stands. All components of NPP were measured, most for 3 consecutive years. Total NPP was low (50–100 g C m−2 yr−1) immediately after fire, highest 12–20 years after fire (332 and 521 g C m−2 yr−1 in the dry and wet stands, respectively) but 50% lower than this in the oldest stands. Tree NPP was highest 37 years after fire but 16–39% lower in older stands, and was dominated by deciduous seedlings in the young stands and by black spruce trees (>85%) in the older stands. The chronosequence was unreplicated but these results were consistent with 14 secondary sites sampled across the landscape. Bryophytes comprised a large percentage of aboveground NPP in the poorly drained stands, while belowground NPP was 0–40% of total NPP. Interannual NPP variability was greater in the youngest stands, the poorly drained stands, and for understory and detritus production. Net ecosystem production (NEP), calculated using heterotrophic soil and woody debris respiration data from previous studies in this chronosequence, implied that the youngest stands were moderate C sources (roughly, 100 g C m−2 yr−1), the middle-aged stands relatively strong sinks (100–300 g C m−2 yr−1), and the oldest stands about neutral with respect to the atmosphere. The ecosystem approach employed in this study provided realistic estimates of chronosequence NPP and NEP, demonstrated the profound impact of wildfire on forest–atmosphere C exchange, and emphasized the need to account for soil drainage, bryophyte production, and species succession when modeling boreal forest C fluxes.