This study was conducted to assess the drought stress and the recovery responses of twenty one chickpea cultivars (Cicer arietinum L.) grown in Turkey. 20-day-old seedlings were subjected to mild drought conditions for 7 days, recovery period of 3 days followed. Then a moderate stress period of 10 days was applied, followed by recovery period of 4 days. Finally, severe stress period of 13 days was applied, followed by recovery period of 5 days. Drought stress treatments were observed to have an adverse effect on photosynthetic efficiency, but also malondialdehyde, total chlorophyll (app. half of cultivars) and carotenoid contents of leaf tissue have increased when compared with their controls. 21 chickpea cultivars were classified into four groups; highly tolerant, tolerant, less tolerant and sensitive, according to the drought factor index (DFI), the values calculated by photosynthetic performance index (PItotal). Only four cultivars recovered from severe drought stress conditions. Aziziye and Diyar 95 cultivars may be suggested to be cultivated in drought-prone areas. In general, the present results indicate that: 1. PItotal and DFI are very satisfactory selection criterion for drought stress. 2. The recovery processes of plants exposed to environmental constraints should be investigated to make the right selection.