Zinc (Zn) is involved in plant growth and stress resistance and is known to increase crop yield. Here, we investigated the effect of Zn on water absorption in the roots of maize (Zea mays L.), a crop which is sensitive to Zn deficiency, during water stress conditions. Seedlings of the maize variety "Zhengdan 958" were cultivated with 0.1 or 6 μM ZnSO4·7H2O. To simulate drought stress, three-week-old seedlings were exposed to 15% polyethylene glycol (PEG). Root growth parameters, root antioxidant enzyme activity, root hydraulic conductivity, root aquaporin gene expression, root and leaf anatomy structure, leaf water potential, chlorophyll content, leaf area, and gas exchange parameters were measured. Under water stress, moderate Zn treatment promoted root growth; maintained root and leaf anatomy structural integrity. Moderate Zn significantly increased roots hydraulic conductivity (51%) and decreased roots antioxidant enzyme activity (POD: -11.1%, CAT: -35.1%, SOD: -3.1%) compared with low-level Zn under water stress. The expression of ZmPIP1;1, ZmPIP1;2, and ZmPIP2;2 was significantly higher with moderate Zn treatment than that of low-level Zn treatment. The leaf water potential, chlorophyll content, leaf area, and gas exchange parameters with moderate Zn treatment increased significantly under water stress compared with low-level Zn treatment. The moderate concentration of Zn improved root hydraulic conductivity in maize and increased resistance to simulated drought conditions by maintaining root structural integrity, decreasing antioxidant enzyme activity, and increasing aquaporin gene expression. Moderate Zn application increased root water absorption and leaf transpiration, thereby maintaining maize water balance under water stress conditions.