Dehydration can be extremely damaging to the performance and welfare of indigenous chickens. The effect of water restriction on haematological and biochemical parameters was compared in Naked Neck (NNK) and Ovambo (OVB) chickens. A total of 54 8-week-old pullets each of NNK and OVB chickens with an initial average weight of 641 ± 10 g/bird were randomly assigned to three water intake treatments with three replications, each having six birds. The water restriction treatments were ad libitum, 70% and 40% of ad libitum intake. Nine experimental pens with a floor space of 3.3 m2 per strain were used. Feed was provided ad libitum. Packed cell volume (PCV), erythrocyte count (RBC), mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and total leucocyte count (WBC), and biochemical parameters (uric acid (UA)), creatinine (CREAT), total protein (TP), albumin (ALB), globulin (GLOB), triglyceride (TGA), total cholesterol (TC), high- (HDLC) and low- (LDLC) density lipoprotein cholesterol and activity of alanine transaminase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and aspartate transaminase (AST) were determined from blood collected after 60 days of water restriction. PCV was higher (P < 0.05) in NNK than OVB chickens offered water ad libitum, but similar in birds offered 70% and 40% of ad libitum. There were no differences in RBC and MCV values between strains, but MCV was higher in birds on 40% than 70% of ad libitum water intake, irrespective of strain. Naked neck chickens had higher (P < 0.05) WBC values than OVB at 40% restriction level, but lower WBC than OVB at 70% water restriction level. UA, CREAT, TGA, TC, LDLC, TP and GLOB increased (P < 0.05) with each increment in water restriction, but the increase in CREAT and TC was more pronounced in OVB than NNK chickens. The opposite was observed for UA. ALT activity indicated that liver function was not affected by water restriction. It was concluded that the two strains can withstand up to 40% of ad libitum water restriction, but NNK tolerated water stress better than OVB chickens.