A system was evaluated for growing plants at reproducible levels of water stress. Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) were grown in vermiculite, transferred to a semipermeable membrane system that encased the root vermiculate mass, and then placed into nutrient solutions to which various amounts of polyethylene glycol (PEG) 20M were added to control solution water potential. The membrane (Spectrapor 1) had a minimum molecular weight cutoff that excluded the PEG 20M. The plants equilibrated with the nutrient solution within 1 to 4 days, and exhibited normal diurnal water relations. Use of the semipermeable membrane system to induce water stress reduces many of the problems associated with hydroponic media.