As exposure to episodic drought can impinge significantly on forest health and the establishment of productive tree plantations, there is great interest in understanding the mechanisms of drought response in trees. The ecologically dominant and economically important genus Populus, with its sequenced genome, provides an ideal opportunity to examine transcriptome level changes in trees in response to a drought stimulus. The transcriptome level drought response of two commercially important Populus clones (P. deltoides × P. nigra, DN34, and P. nigra × P. maximowiczii, NM6) was characterized over a diurnal period using a 4 × 2 × 2 complete randomized factorial anova experimental design (four time points, two genotypes and two treatment conditions), using Affymetrix Poplar GeneChip microarrays. Notably, the specific genes that exhibited changes in transcript abundance in response to drought differed between the genotypes and/or the time of day that they exhibited their greatest differences. This study emphasizes the fact that it is not possible to draw simple, generalized conclusions about the drought response of the genus Populus on the basis of one species, nor on the basis of results collected at a single time point. The data derived from our studies provide insights into the variety of genetic mechanisms underpinning the Populus drought response, and provide candidates for future experiments aimed at understanding this response across this economically and ecologically important genus.