ABSTRACT Groundwater with high salt concentrations is common in the semiarid region of Brazil. It often makes them inappropriate to conventional agricultural production of vegetables. Therefore, the objective of this work was to evaluate watercress and Chinese cabbage crops under a nutrient film technique (NFT) hydroponic system using brackish groundwater. The experiment was carried out in the Poço do Boi region, in Ibimirim, Pernambuco, Brazil (8º32'15"S, 37º41'30"W, and altitude of 431 m). The treatments used were: public water (T1), calcium sulfate water (T2), magnesium chloride water S1 (T3), calcium chloride water (T4), sodium chloride water (T5), and magnesium chloride water S2 (T6). A completely randomized experimental design was used, with six treatments and four replications, totaling 24 plots for each crop. The fresh and dry shoot weights and rates of relative and absolute growths were analyzed. The different waters used affected negatively the growth and yield of the watercress and Chinese cabbage plants. The calcium chloride water was the most suitable for the watercress production. However, none of the groundwaters used could be recommended for production of Chinese cabbage. The lowest growth rates (5.88% to watercress and 0.75% to Chinese cabbage) of the fresh matter were found with the use of magnesium water.