With the objective to develop a practical method of screening potato for drought tolerance, shoot and root growth in plantlets raised in vitro (from nodal cuttings drawn from in vivo as well as in vitro grown plantlets) were studied in three genotypes with known root mass production under field conditions. Different levels of water stress were induced using five concentrations of agar in MS (Murashige and Skoog in Physiol Plant 15:473-497, 1962) medium. Water potential of various media ranged from -0.70 MPa to -0.98 MPa. Water stress in culture adversely affected plantlet growth, and the responses varied with genotype and explant source. Genotype IWA-1 was less affected than Konafubuki and Norin-1. In the experiment with explants from in vivo grown plants, the time to rooting was considerably delayed in Konafubuki and Norin-1 by an increase in agar concentration, but no such effect was observed in IWA-1. In all media, the mean number of roots and root length was greater in IWA-1 than Konafubuki and Norin-1, and the latter two genotypes were at par. At 10 gl−1 agar, IWA-1 had taller plantlets, heavier foliage dry weight, root volume, as well as root dry weight than Konafubuki and Norin-1, whereas the latter two genotypes were at par for all these characteristics. This pattern was similar to the reported pattern of these genotypes for root dry weight under field conditions. However, such similarity in the in vitro and field behavior of the tested genotypes was not observed when nodal cuttings drawn from in vitro plantlets were used as explants. It is concluded that in vitro screening of potato under specific and limited water stress conditions by raising plantlets from nodal cuttings drawn from in vivo grown plants may provide a system for effectively differentiating the genotypes for their expected root mass production under field conditions.