Water shortage and low phosphorus (P) availability limit yields in soybean. Roots play important roles in water-limited and P-deficient environment, but the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. In this study we determined the responses of four soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] genotypes [Huandsedadou (HD), Bailudou (BLD), Jindou 21 (J21), and Zhonghuang 30 (ZH)] to three P levels [applied 0 (P0), 60 (P60), and 120 (P120) mg P kg 1 dry soil to the upper 0.4 m of the soil profile] and two water treatment [well-watered (WW) and water-stressed (WS)] with special reference to root morphology and architecture, we compared yield and its components, root morphology and root architecture to find out which variety and/ or what kind of root architecture had high grain yield under P and drought stress. The results showed that water stress and low P, respectively, significantly reduced grain yield by 60 and 40%, daily water use by 66 and 31%, P accumulation by 40 and 80%, and N accumulation by 39 and 65%. The cultivar ZH with the lowest daily water use had the highest grain yield at P60 and P120 under drought. Increased root length was positively associated with N and P accumulation in both the WW and WS treatments, but not with grain yield under water and P deficits. However, in the WS treatment, high adventitious and lateral root densities were associated with high N and P uptake per unit root length which in turn was significantly and positively associated with grain yield. Our results suggest that (1) genetic variation of grain yield, daily water use, P and N accumulation, and root morphology and architecture were observed among the soybean cultivars and ZH had the best yield performance under P and water limited conditions; (2) water has a major influence on nutrient uptake and grain yield, while additional P supply can modestly increase yields under drought in some soybean genotypes; (3) while conserved water use plays an important role in grain yield under drought, root traits also contribute to high nutrient uptake efficiency and benefit yield under drought.