We have performed a comparative study of ultrafast charge carrier dynamics in a range of III-V nanowires using optical pump-terahertz probe spectroscopy. This versatile technique allows measurement of important parameters for device applications, including carrier lifetimes, surface recombination velocities, carrier mobilities and donor doping levels. GaAs, InAs and InP nanowires of varying diameters were measured. For all samples, the electronic response was dominated by a pronounced surface plasmon mode. Of the three nanowire materials, InAs nanowires exhibited the highest electron mobilities of 6000 cm(2) V-1 s(-1), which highlights their potential for high mobility applications, such as field effect transistors. InP nanowires exhibited the longest carrier lifetimes and the lowest surface recombination velocity of 170 cm s(-1). This very low surface recombination velocity makes InP nanowires suitable for applications where carrier lifetime is crucial, such as in photovoltaics. In contrast, the carrier lifetimes in GaAs nanowires were extremely short, of the order of picoseconds, due to the high surface recombination velocity, which was measured as 5.4 X 10(5) cm s(-1). These findings will assist in the choice of nanowires for different applications, and identify the challenges in producing nanowires suitable for future electronic and optoelectronic devices.