Drought is one of the main constraints for common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) production in Latin America. The aim of this work was to identify upregulated genes in the drought-tolerant common bean cv. Pinto Villa, grown under water-deficit conditions. Twenty-eight cDNAs representing differentially-expressed mRNAs in roots and/or leaves were isolated via suppression subtractive hybridisation. Their expression profiles in plants under intermediate and severe dehydration stress were tested. Three cDNAs corresponded to genes already described as associated to drought stress in P. vulgaris, 12 were known P. vulgaris sequences without previous association with drought response, and 13 were new P. vulgaris sequences. Analysis of the deduced proteins encoded by the cDNAs revealed putative functions in cellular protection, sugar metabolism, and protein synthesis, folding and turnover. Additionally, a new member of group 3 late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) genes (PvLEA3) was cloned and its complete sequence was obtained. Given the lack of reports comparing expression of dehydration-responsive genes in bean cultivars with different response to drought, the expression of PvLEA3 transcript in five bean cultivars from different origin was analysed. The induction of PvLEA3 was directly associated with the level of drought tolerance in the cultivars studied.