Black spruce (Picea mariana [Mill.] B.S.P.) families varied in growth rate on drier but not on moister sites as a result of water stress. To determine the relationship between growth and its partitioning, and drought tolerance, seedlings dry weight of 7 full-sib black spruce families was compared for 2 growing seasons under well-watered conditions and drought in a nursery with that of 16-yr field height growth on dry and moist sites. Family variation in dry weight partitioning among roots, shoots, stems, and needles was also compared. Family ranks in seedling total dry weight under droughted conditions correlated significantly with family ranks in field height growth after 16 yr on the dry, but not moist sites. Two families (22 and 43) exhibited superior growth rates under drought, but not well-watered conditions compared with 3 other families (25, 46, and 50), whose growth declined significantly under drought stress. The greater total dry weight growth of families 22 and 43 under drought was the result of sustained leaf growth. By contrast, less vigorous families 25, 46, and 50 allocated more dry weight to the roots at the expense of needle and stem growth when droughted. Families did not differ in dry weight partitioning under well-watered conditions, however. These early growth and partitioning responses to drought stress may therefore provide criteria for selecting drought tolerant, faster growing genotypes for drier, but not moister, sites. For Sci. 41(1):168-180.