[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas (L). Lam.) is relatively tolerant to unfavorable growth conditions such as drought, yet has not been exploited to provide a better understanding of the molecular basis of drought stress tolerance. We obtained 983 high-quality expressed sequence tags of 100 bp or longer (average length of 700 bp) from cDNA libraries of detached white fibrous root tissues by subjecting them to dehydration for 6 h. The 431 cDNAs were each assigned a function by alignment using the BLASTX algorithm. Among them, three genes associated with various abiotic stresses and nine genes not previously associated with drought stress were selected for expression pattern analysis through detailed reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. The direct and indirect relationships of the 12 genes with drought tolerance mechanisms were ascertained at different developmental stages and under various stress conditions.