Responses to prolonged drought and recovery from drought of two South American potato (Solanum tuberosum L. ssp. andigena (Juz & Buk) Hawkes) landraces, Sullu and Ccompis were compared under field conditions. Physiological and biomass measurements, yield analysis, the results of hybridisation to a potato microarray platform (44000 probes) and metabolite profiling were used to characterise responses to water deficit. Drought affected shoot and root biomass negatively in Ccompis but not in Sullu, whereas both genotypes maintained tuber yield under water stress. Ccompis showed stronger reduction in maximum quantum yield under stress than Sullu, and less decrease in stomatal resistance. Genes associated with PSII functions were activated during recovery in Sullu only. Evidence for sucrose accumulation in Sullu only during maximum stress and recovery was observed, in addition to increases in cell wall biosynthesis. A depression in the abundance of plastid superoxide dismutase transcripts was observed under maximum stress in Ccompis. Both sucrose and the regulatory molecule trehalose accumulated in the leaves of Sullu only. In contrast, in Ccompis, the raffinose oligosaccharide family pathway was activated, whereas low levels of sucrose and minor stress-mediated changes in trehalose were observed. Proline, and expression of the associated genes, rose in both genotypes under drought, with a 3-fold higher increase in Sullu than in Ccompis. The results demonstrate the presence of distinct molecular and biochemical drought responses in the two potato landraces leading to yield maintenance but differential biomass accumulation in vegetative tissues. © CSIRO 2008.