It has been suggested that craniofacial morphology plays an important role in masticatory function, however, there are controversies and unsolved questions that still require elucidation. The aims of this study were to evaluate masticatory performance, mandibular movement, electromyographic (EMG) activity and muscle effort of masseter and anterior temporal muscles during mastication. Seventy-eight dentate subjects were selected and divided into three groups according to vertical facial pattern: brachyfacial, mesofacial and dolichofacial. Silicon-based material was used for chewing tests. Masticatory performance was determined by a 10-sieve method, and masticatory movements during mastication were assessed using a 3D mandibular tracking device. Electromyographic activities of masseter and anterior temporal muscles were evaluated during mastication, and muscle effort was calculated by the percentage of activity required for mastication based on maximum muscle effort. Data were analysed using anova and anova on-ranks tests. Dolichofacial subjects presented significantly poorer masticatory performance (6·64±2·04; 4·33±0·70 and 3·67±0·63), slower rate of chewing (1·34±0·27, 1·18±0·22 and 1·21±0·20 cycles per second) and larger posterior displacement during mastication (6·22±2·18; 5·18±1·87 and 5·13±1·89) than meso- and brachyfacial individuals, respectively. No statistical difference was detected among groups for the other masticatory movement parameters. There was no difference in absolute EMG amplitudes of masseter and anterior temporal muscles during mastication among groups, but the relative effort of both muscles was higher in dolichofacial, followed by meso- and brachyfacial subjects (masseter: 39·34± 2·25; 36·87±4·05 and 33·33±4·15; anterior temporal: 38·12±1·61; 38·20±8·01 and 35·75±2·48). It was concluded that the vertical facial pattern influences masticatory performance, mandibular movement during mastication and the effort masticatory muscles required for chewing.