Using 102 pepper (Capsicum annuum) genotypes, a greenhouse experiment has been conducted to study genotypic variation in tolerance to 100 mM sodium chloride (NaCl) in nutrient solution. Based on the severity of leaf symptoms caused by the NaCl treatment there was a substantial genotypic variation in salt tolerance. From this screening experiment, six sensitive and six tolerant genotypes were chosen to study dry matter production and root and shoot concentrations of sodium (Na), potassium (K) and calcium (Ca) in a growth chamber experiment in a nutrient solution with and without 150 mM NaCl. The genotypes selected as sensitive were highly damaged and developed severe chlorosis and necrosis under NaCl treatment, while the genotypes selected as tolerant were slightly affected. On average, decreases in shoot dry matter production caused by NaCl were greater in the sensitive than the tolerant genotypes. Application of salt increased shoot Na concentration at greater amount in the sensitive than the tolerant genotypes. Of the tolerant genotypes, the genotype Cac (Capsicum annuum var. cerasiforme) and 1245 F1 had around 2.45% Na in shoot while the sensitive genotypes Kandil and Pazarcik contained, on average, 5.4% Na. All sensitive and tolerant genotypes exhibited more or less similar shoot concentrations of K and Ca. There was very significant and positive correlation between severity of leaf symptoms and shoot Na concentration, but no correlation could be found in the case of K or Ca concentrations with the severity of leaf symptoms. The results indicate existence of substantial genotypic variation in tolerance to NaCl stress in pepper. It seems very likely that exclusion of Na from roots into growth medium plays a critical role in expression of high Na tolerance in pepper. (c) 2006 Published by Elsevier B.V.