Recent work has shown that stomatal conductance (gs) and net photosynthesis (Anet) are responsive to the hydraulic conductance of the soil to leaf pathway (Xp). Two tree species with differing xylem structures were used to study the effect of systematic manipulations in Xp that elevated xylem hydraulic resistance. Simultaneous measures of gs, Anet, bulk leaf abscisic acid concentration (ABAL), leaf water potential (L), and whole plant transpiration (Ew) were taken under controlled environment conditions. Quercus shumardii Buckl. (shumard oak), a ring porous species and Acer rubrum L. `Summer Red' (red maple), a diffuse porous species, were studied to investigate the short-term hydraulic and chemical messenger response to drought. Both species decreased Anet, gs, L, and Ew in response to an immediate substrate moisture alteration. Relative to initial well-watered values, red maple Anet, gs, and Ew declined more than shumard oak. However, gs and Anet vs. whole-plant leaf specific hydraulic resistance was greater in shumard oak. In addition, the larger hydraulic resistance in shumard oak was attributed to higher shoot, as opposed to root, system resistance. The results indicate hydraulic resistance differences that may be attributed to the disparate xylem anatomy between the two species. This study also provides evidence to support the short-term hydraulic signal negative feedback link hypothesis between gs and the cavitation threshold, as opposed to chemical signaling via rapid accumulation from root-synthesized ABA.