A field study was carried out to determine the effects of water stress imposed at different development stages on grain yield, seasonal evapotranspiration, crop-water relationships, yield response to water and water use efficiency of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) for winter and summer sowing. The field trials were conducted on a loam Entisol soil in Thrace Region in Turkey, using Dincer, the most popular safflower variety in the research area. A randomised complete block design with three replications was used. Three known growth stages of the plant were considered and a total of 8 (including rainfed) irrigation treatments were applied. The effect of irrigation or water stress at any stage of development on grain yield per hectare and 1000 kernel weight, was evaluated. Results of this study showed that safflower was significantly affected by water shortage in the soil profile due to omitted irrigation during the sensitive vegetative stage. The highest yield was observed in the fully irrigated control and was higher for winter sowing than for summer sowing. Evapotranspiration calculated for non-stressed production was 728 and 673mm for winter and summer sowing, respectively. Safflower grain yield of the fully irrigated treatments was 4.05 and 3.74tha-1 for winter and summer season, respectively. The seasonal yield response factor was 0.97 and 0.81 for winter and summer sowing, respectively. The highest total water use efficiency was obtained in the treatment irrigated only at vegetative stage while the lowest value was observed when the crop was irrigated only at yield stage. As conclusions: (i) winter sowing is suggested; (ii) if deficit irrigation is to apply at only one or two stages, Y stage or Y and F stages should be omitted, respectively.