Revealing the effects of drought stress during the critical period on the photosynthetic characteristics and production performance of naked oats could provide theoretical basis for optimizing the water managements and selecting the drought resistance cultivars. In this study, a potted experiment consisting of four water levels was conducted, to investigate the response of photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, biomass, yield and yield components of to drought stress during 12-15 days before heading at a typical site in Zhangjiakou. Results showed that the initial chlorophyll fluorescence rate (Fo) increased by 9.03-50.92% under drought stress, while the maximum fluorescence rate (Fm) and photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) decreased by 8.49-19.73% and 10.37-24.12%. Moreover drought stress decreased the photosynthetic rate (Pn), transpiration rate (Tr), stomatal conductance (Gs). The CO2 concentration (Ci) decreased under light drought stress, while increased under moderate and severe drought stress. Drought stress during critical periods also had significant impacts on oat yield and yield components. Oat yields decreased by 9.5-12.7%, 16.8-27.0% and 44.1-47.7% under light, moderate and sever drought stress, respectively. The yield components such as grains per spike, 1000-grain weight were decreased by 1.7-12.5%, 8.3-24.3%, 32.7-34.2% and 5.7-8.6%, 12.7-14.5%, 16.8-19.1% under light, moderate and severe drought stress, respectively. But the Spike numbers were not signifigantly different between different treatments. Our study explored the impacts of drought stress on the photosynthetic characteristics and production performance of naked oats, which had significance for enhancing the production efficiency for oat under drought stress.