Abstract. Isoprene (Is) emissions by plants represent a loss of carbon and energy resources leading to the initial hypothesis that fast growing pioneer species in secondary tropical forests allocate carbon primarily to growth at the expense of isoprenoid defenses. In this study, we quantified leaf isoprene and methanol emissions from the abundant pantropical pioneer tree species Vismia guianensis and ambient isoprene concentrations above a diverse secondary forest in the central Amazon. As photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was varied (0 to 3,000 µmol m−2 s−1) under standard leaf temperature (30 °C), isoprene emissions from V. guianensis increased without saturation up to 80 nmol m−2 s−1. A non-linear increase in isoprene emissions with respect to net photosynthesis (Pn) resulted with the fraction of Pn dedicated to isoprene emissions increasing with light intensity (up to 2 % of Pn). Emission responses to temperature under standard light conditions (PAR of 1,000 µmol m−2 s−1) resulted in the classic uncoupling of isoprene emissions (Topt,iso > 40 ºC) from net photosynthesis (Topt, Pn = 30.0–32.5 °C) with up to 7 % of Pn emitted as isoprene at 40 °C. Under standard environmental conditions of PAR and leaf temperature, young V. guianensis leaves showed high methanol emissions, low Pn, and low isoprene emissions. In contrast, mature leaves showed high Pn, high isoprene emissions, and low methanol emissions, highlighting the differential control of leaf phenology over methanol and isoprene emissions. High daytime ambient isoprene concentrations (11 ppbv) were observed above a secondary Amazon rainforest suggesting that isoprene emissions are common among neotropical pioneer species. The results are not consistent with the initial hypothesis and support a functional role of methanol during leaf expansion and the establishment of photosynthetic machinery, and a protective role of isoprene for photosynthesis during high temperature extremes regularly experienced in secondary rainforest ecosystems.