The present study was carried out to elucidate the drought growth responses of Quercus ilex L., Phillyrea latifolia L., Arbutus unedo L., and other accompanying woody species of the Mediterranean holm oak forest. We submitted holm oak forest stands in Prades mountains (NE Spain) to a 2-year experimental drought. We reduced soil water availability about 15% by plastic strips and funnels that partially excluded rain throughfall and by ditch interception of water runoff. Mean stem diameter increment showed a great variation depending on the species. A. unedo had larger growth rates than Q. ilex and P. latifolia, but it was also the species that experimented the highest growth reduction in the drought plots (77%), suggesting a higher drought sensitivity than Q. ilex (55%) and P. latifolia (no drought effect). The growth reduction was specially marked in the larger trees. Aboveground stand biomass increment, estimated from stem diameter by allometric relationships, was 1.9 Mg ha 1 per year in the control plots. The 15% reduction in the upper soil moisture produced 42% reduction in this biomass increment. In the drier conditions predicted in this Mediterranean area in the frame of climate change, an important reduction of growth rates can be hence expected, accompanied by a gain of dominance of drought-tolerant species such as P. latifolia in detriment of more mesic species such as Q. ilex. # 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.