© 2014 Blackwell Verlag GmbH. Brassica rapa L. is a genetically diverse parent species of the allotetraploid species, oilseed rape (B. napus) and a potential source of drought tolerance for B. napus. We examined the effect of a 13-day drought stress period during the early reproductive phase, relative to a well-watered (WW) control, on subsequent growth and development in nine accessions of B. rapa and one accession of Brassica juncea selected for their wide morphological and genetic diversity. We measured leaf water potential, stomatal conductance, water use, and leaf and bud temperatures during the stress period and aboveground dry weight of total biomass at maturity. Dry weight of seeds and reproductive tissue were not useful measures of drought tolerance due to self-incompatibility in B. rapa. The relative total biomass (used as the measure of drought tolerance in this study) of the 10 accessions exposed to drought stress ranged from 47 % to 117 % of the WW treatment and was negatively correlated with leaf-to-air and bud-to-air temperature difference when averaged across the 13-day stress period. Two wild-type (B. rapa ssp. sylvestris) accessions had higher relative total and non-reproductive biomass at maturity and cooler leaves and buds than other types. We conclude that considerable genotypic variation for drought tolerance exists in B. rapa and cooler leaves and buds during a transient drought stress in the early reproductive phase may be a useful screening tool for drought tolerance.