Lentil is generally grown as a rainfed crop in areas of West Asia and North Africa where rainfall is highly variable. This study aimed to measure genetic responses to variation in moisture supply in the yield of seed and straw, evapotranspiration and water use efficiency, to guide the lentil breeding programme. The response of 25 diverse lentil lines to a soil water gradient was studied in 1987/88 and 1988/89 at Breda, northern Syria, using a line-source sprinkler system. The coefficient of determination between rainfed and irrigated seed yield in the dry 1988/89 season was r2 = 0.26, and the genotypes that were well adapted to dry conditions were different from those well adapted to wet conditions. However, there were also widely adapted genotypes that yielded well under both wet and dry conditions. The selection of such genotypes might be appropriate for the region receiving 300 mm annual rainfall, in contrast with the approach to selection suggested for drier areas (less than 300 mm annual rainfall) in a companion article. Soil moisture extraction from the time of maximum profile recharge to maturity in 1987/88 and cumulative crop evapotranspiration in the 1987/88 rainfed crop did not differ among lentil lines. In the irrigated treatment, however, evapotranspiration in the medium to late maturing lines exceeded that in the early maturing lines towards maturity.