Drought was induced in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) genotypes (ChK 3226 and ILC 3279) differing in yield capacity. Water stress (S1, RWC around 55-50%; S2, RWC a parts per thousand currency sign 40%) drastically reduced stomatal conductance (g (s)) and net photosynthetic rate (P (N)) in both genotypes. ILC 3279 showed greater photosynthetic capacity (A (max)) decreases. Maximum PSII photochemical efficiency (F-v/F-m), photochemical quenching (q(P)), total chlorophylls (Chls) and carotenoids (Cars) content showed stability in both genotypes under stress, but in S2 ILC 3279 presented an increase in basal fluorescence (F-0) and a greater reduction in estimation of quantum yield of linear electron transport (I broken vertical bar(e)) than ChK 3226. Membrane damage evaluated by electrolyte leakage occurred earlier and was greater in ILC 3279. It also presented a decrease of total fatty acids (TFA) along drought, while in ChK 3226 greater amounts of TFA were observed in S1. In rehydration, P (N) of S1 plants completely recovered (ILC 3279) or remained slightly below control (ChK 3226). As regards S2 plants, ILC 3279 showed stronger P (N) and g (s) reductions than ChK 3226, despite both genotypes totally recovered A (max) and chlorophyll (Chl) a fluorescence. ChK 3226 recovered more efficiently from membrane damage. Under control conditions, greater amounts of most of the studied soluble metabolites occurred in ChK 3226 plants. Malate and citrate decreased with water stress (S2) in both genotypes. Sucrose and pinitol (that had a higher concentration than sucrose in both genotypes) increased in ILC 3279 (S1 and S2), and decreased in ChK 3226 (S2). In ILC 3279 proline and asparagine followed similar patterns. Genotypes showed a similar shoot dry mass (DM) in control plants, but root DM was higher in ChK 3226. Drought reduced root and shoot DM in ChK 3226 already under S1, while in ILC 3279 root DM was unaffected by drought and shoot biomass decreased only in S2. Root/shoot ratio was always higher in ChK 3226 but tended to decrease under stress, while the opposite was observed in ILC 3279. No pods were obtained from control plants of both genotypes, or droughted ILC 3279 plants. ChK 3226 produced pods under S1 (higher yield) and S2. Under stress conditions, ChK 3226 was less affected in photosynthetic activity and membrane integrity, showing a better tolerance to drought. This agrees with the better yield of this genotype under water stress. Distinct strategies seem to underlie the different physiological responses of the two genotypes to water deficit. In spite of its significant solutes accumulation, ILC 3279 was more affected in photosynthetic activity and membrane integrity during water stress than ChK 3226, which showed better yield under drought. A relation could not be established between solutes accumulation of ILC 3279 and yield.