Four cultivars of chickpea, two salt tolerant (CSG 8962 and CSG 9651) and two salt susceptible (BG 267 and DCP 92-3) were subjected to salt stress (0.0, 4.0, 6.0 and 8.0 dSm−1) and were investigated for germination index, growth rate, leaf chlorophyll and N-assimilation. Salinity markedly decreased germination and growth rate in all the cultivars but to alesser extent in cultivar CSG 9651 (kabuli). The leaf chlorophyll was more affected in DCP92-3 (desi). The tolerant cultivars had higher nitrate reductase activity, which ultimately resulted in increased activity of ammonia assimilating enzymes GS, GDH, and GOGAT in the leaves of CSG 8962 and CSG 9651. Breeding of kabuli cultivars in saline soils has been suggested in the present study.