In water-stressed soybean primary roots, elongation was maintained at well-watered rates in the apical 4 mm (region 1), but was progressively inhibited in the 4–8 mm region (region 2), which exhibits maximum elongation in well-watered roots. These responses are similar to previous results for the maize primary root. To understand these responses in soybean, spatial profiles of soluble protein composition were analysed. Among the changes, the results indicate that region-specific regulation of phenylpropanoid metabolism may contribute to the distinct growth responses in the different regions. Several enzymes related to isoflavonoid biosynthesis increased in abundance in region 1, correlating with a substantial increase of isoflavonoid content in this region which could contribute to growth maintenance via various potential mechanisms. In contrast, caffeoyl-CoA O-methyltransferase, which is involved in lignin synthesis, was highly up-regulated in region 2. This response was associated with enhanced accumulation of lignin, which may be related to the inhibition of growth in this region. Several proteins that increased in abundance in both regions of water-stressed roots were related to protection from oxidative damage. In particular, an increase in the abundance of ferritin proteins effectively sequestered more iron and prevented excess free iron in the elongation zone under water stress.