A transcriptome analysis of the Populus alba cambial region was performed with the aim of elucidating the gene network underlying the response to water deficit within the cambium and differentiating derivative cambial cells. Water stress was induced in 1-year-old P. alba plants by withholding water for 9 days. At that time, leaf predawn water potential fell to −0.8 MPa, resulting in a significant reduction in stomatal conductance, CO2 assimilation and a consistent increment of stem shrinkage. These effects were almost fully reversed by re-hydration. The water deficit resulted in changes in gene expression that affected several functional categories, such as protein metabolism, cell wall metabolism, stress response, transporters and transcriptional regulation. The function of up- and down-regulated genes is discussed considering the physiological response of the plants to water deficit.