Bismuth telluride and its alloys are widely used as materials for thermoelectric refrigeration. They are also the best materials for use in thermoelectric generators when the temperature of the heat source is moderate. The dimensionless figure of merit, ZT
, usually rises with temperature, as long as there is only one type of charge carrier. Eventually, though, minority carrier conduction becomes significant and ZT
decreases above a certain temperature. There is also the possibility of chemical decomposition due to the vaporization of tellurium. Here we discuss the likely temperature dependence of the thermoelectric parameters and the means by which the composition may be optimized for applications above room temperature. The results of these theoretical predictions are compared with the observed properties of bismuth telluride-based thermoelements at elevated temperatures. Compositional changes are suggested for materials that are destined for generator modules.