The relationship of leaf weight ratio (LWR), leaf area ratio (LAR), stomatal frequency and dry matter (DM) production with yield and with photosynthetic efficiency, as reflected by 14CO2 fixation rate, was studied in fox-tail millet (Setaria italica) for three consecutive years. Several genotypes were identified which combined small leaf area and/or low stomatal numbers per plant with productivity under rain-fed conditions equal to that of genotypes with large stomatal numbers. 14CO2 studies in these genotypes showed that the rate of carbon fixation by the leaves was greater, at any canopy position, than in the corresponding large LA/large DM types. Genotypes with consistently small stomatal numbers per plant, associated with good dry matter accumulation and productivity, may also show small transpirational water loss under rain-fed or drought conditions. It is concluded that such genotypes are desirable for better productivity under these conditions.