Drought is a major limitation to the growth and productivity of trees in the ecologically and economically important genus Populus. The ability of Populus trees to contend with drought is a function of genome responsiveness to this environmental insult, involving reconfiguration of the transcriptome to appropriately remodel growth, development and metabolism. Here we test hypotheses aimed at examining the extent of intraspecific variation in the drought transcriptome using six different Populus balsamifera L. genotypes and Affymetrix GeneChip technology. Within a given genotype there was a positive correlation between the magnitude of water-deficit induced changes in transcript abundance across the transcriptome, and the capacity of that genotype to maintain growth following water deficit. Genotypes that had more similar drought-responsive transcriptomes also had fewer genotypic differences, as determined by microarray-derived single feature polymorphism (SFP) analysis, suggesting that responses may be conserved across individuals that share a greater degree of genotypic similarity. This work highlights the fact that a core species-level response can be defined; however, the underpinning genotype-derived complexities of the drought response in Populus must be taken into consideration when defining both species- and genus-level responses.