Abstract Two-year field experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of alternate partial root-zone drip irrigation on fruit yield, fruit quality and water use efficiency of table grape ( Vitis vinifera L. cv Rizamat) in the arid region of northwest China. Three irrigation treatments were included, i.e. CDI (conventional drip irrigation, both sides of the root-zone irrigated), ADI (alternate drip irrigation, both sides of the root-zone irrigated alternatively with half the water) and FDI (fixed drip irrigation, only one side of the root system irrigated with half the water). Results indicated that compared to CDI, ADI kept the same photosynthetic rate ( P n) but reduced transpiration rate, thus increased leaf water use efficiency (WUE) of table grape. And diurnal variation of leaf water potential showed no significant differences during 7.00 a.m. to 14.00 p.m. in both years. ADI also produced similar yield and improved WUE ET by 26.7–46.4% and increased the percentage of edible grape by 3.88–5.78%, vitamin C content in the fruit by 15.3–42.2% and ratio of total soluble solid concentration/titrated acid in both years as compared to CDI. Thus ADI saved irrigation water, improved the water use efficiency and fruit quality of table grape without detrimental effect on the fruit yield in arid region.