Drought stress is one of the major abiotic factors affecting seed germination and plant growth especially in arid and semi-arid regions. In this study, we investigated the effects of drought stress on seed germination and seedling growth of five varieties of rapeseed. Seven drought stress levels of zero (control), -3, -5, -7, -9, -11 and -13 bars were performed using polyethylene glycol-6000 (PEG-6000). A completely randomized design with three replications was used for this experiment. Germination percentage (GP), germination rate (GR), mean germination time (MGT), root length (RL) and shoot length (SL) were measured to evaluate the varieties response to PEG-induced drought stress. Drought stress, variety and the interaction drought × variety had a significant effect on all studied parameters. GP and GR decreased with the increase in stress level, while MGT increased. There were no seeds germinated for all varieties at -11 bars and -13 bars. Shoot length decreased with increasing drought stress but different varieties show different performance under stress environment. Root length decreased with increasing level of severe drought stress. However, the presence of moderate drought stress could even improve the root growth of the investigated varieties. The varieties ‘INRA-CZH2' and ‘INRA-CZH3' exhibited the highest germination percentage and the best early seedling growth. Thus, they could be recommended for environments with early cropping cycle drought.