Transpiration rate, diffusive resistances, canopy conductances and water potentials were determined at three canopy positions in non·stressed and stressed plants of sunflower hybrid BSH·1 and five other cultivars of sunflower under field conditions. The leaf area (LA) and stomatal frequency (f) was determined at the three canopy positions in field·grown plants and the total number of stomata per plant was calculated as the product of LA and f. These variables were then related to the dry·matter accumulation and seed yield in these cultivars. Cultivars with either a high leaf area or high number of stomata per plant were more productive under non-stress conditions. Under stress conditions, cultivars differed in the extent of change in conductance (g) and transpiration rate at different canopy positions. In the hybrid BSH·1, g was low at all levels in the canopy associated with a higher (less negative) water potential and this hybrid had lower transpiration rates at all canopy levels under stress although the number of stomata per plant was high. Stomatal sensitivity associated with a higher threshold water potential for stomatal closure is discussed as a possible explanation for the higher dry·matter accumulation and productivity of hybrid sunflower BSH·1 under moisture stress conditions.