To identify and develop drought tolerant maize (Zea mays
L.), high-throughput and cost-effective screening methods are needed. In dicot crops, measuring survival and recovery of seedlings has been successful in predicting drought tolerance but has not been reported in C4 grasses such as maize. Seedlings of sixty-two diverse maize inbred lines and their hybrid testcross progeny were evaluated for germination, survival and recovery after a series of drought cycles. Genotypic differences among inbred lines and hybrid testcrosses were best explained approximately 13 and 18 days after planting, respectively. Genotypic effects were significant and explained over 6% of experimental variance. Specifically three inbred lines had significant survival, and 14 hybrids had significant recovery. However, no significant correlation was observed between hybrids and inbreds (R2
= 0.03), indicating seedling stress response is more useful as a secondary screening parameter in hybrids than in inbred lines per se. Field yield data under full and limited irrigation indicated that seedling drought mechanisms were independent of drought responses at flowering in this study.