Water shortage is among the major abiotic stresses that restrict growth and productivity of citrus. The existing literature indicates that tetraploid rootstocks had better water-deficit tolerance than corresponding diploids. However, the associated tolerance mechanisms such as antioxidant defence and nutrient uptake are less explored. Therefore, we evaluated physiological and biochemical responses (antioxidant defence, osmotic adjustments and nutrient uptake) of diploid (2x) and tetraploid (4x) volkamer lemon (VM) rootstocks grafted with kinnow mandarin (KM) under two water-deficit regimes. The KM/4xVM (VM4) and KM/2xVM (VM2) observed decrease in photosynthetic variables, i.e., photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g.sub.s ), transpiration rate (E), leaf greenness (SPAD), dark adopted chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm), dark adopted chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv'/Fm'), relative water contents (RWC) and leaf surface area (LSA), and increase in non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) under both water-deficit regimes. Moreover, oxidative stress indicators, i.e., malondialdehyde (MDA) and hydrogen peroxide, and activities of antioxidant enzymes, i.e., superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT), ascorbate peroxidase (APx), glutathione reductase (GR) were increased under both water-deficit regimes. Nonetheless, increase was noted in osmoprotectants such as proline (PRO) and glycine betaine (GB) and other biochemical compounds, including antioxidant capacity (AC), total phenolic content (TPC) and total soluble protein (TSP) in VM2 and VM4 under both water-deficit regimes. Dry biomass (DB) of both rootstocks was decreased under each water-deficit condition. Interestingly, VM4 showed higher and significant increase in antioxidant enzymes, osmoprotectants and other biochemical compounds, while VM2 exhibited higher values for oxidative stress indicators. Overall, results indicated that VM4 better tolerated water-deficit stress by maintaining photosynthetic variables associated with strong antioxidant defence machinery as compared to VM2. However, nutrient uptake was not differed among tested water-deficit conditions and rootstocks. The results conclude that VM4 can better tolerate water-deficit than VM2. Therefore, VM4 can be used as rootstock in areas of high-water deficiency for better citrus productivity.