The major risk facing rural households in Zimbabwe is that of drought. We use panel data to investigate responses of one set of households to this risk. The panel represents households resettled during the first two years of Zimbabwe’s post-independence land reform program. The data are for a period (1983–1996) in which Zimbabwe experienced four major droughts (in 1982–1984, 1986–1987, 1991–1992 and 1994–1995). In three of the four droughts, state and nongovernmental organization (NGO) drought-relief schemes provided substantial support to help maintain consumption levels. In this context, households make little use of liquid assets (cash or jewelry) and only limited use of the financial system. The main private coping mechanism is the sale of cattle. Households most at risk during droughts are those without livestock. We show that this coping mechanism is consistent, contrary to what is sometimes suggested in the literature, with substantial accumulation of livestock wealth.