This paper investigates the relationship between maximum precipitation in Kraków and types of atmospheric circulation in southern Poland, as classified by Niedźwiedź. Three characteristics were used to define this relationship: maximum precipitation (Pmax), its duration (d) and probability of exceedance (p). The input data came from Kraków's uniquely long and homogenous pluviographic record spanning the period 1886–2007. Hourly precipitation values for the maximum precipitation events were identified and arranged in 1–24 hour intervals. They were then processed using the generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution to produce quantiles of maximum precipitation totals in each of the intervals and broken down by the corresponding circulation type. Differences between the development mechanisms are manifested in relationships between precipitation characteristics and their measure of randomness, i.e. exceedance probability. This paper demonstrates that maximum precipitation events depend on their duration d and atmospheric circulation. The maximum short-duration (one-hour) events occur primarily in either of two circulation types: (i) cyclonic with advection from the east and from the southeast or (ii) low-pressure centre and cyclonic trough. Maximum long-duration precipitation events (24 hour), on the other hand, occur in the cyclonic type of circulation with advection from the north and from the northeast.