Evaluation of commonly grown cotton (Gossypium hir‐sutum L.) genotypes under saline environment may help to cope with the venture of the crop failure in salt‐affected soils. In a pot experiment, four cotton genotypes (MNH‐93, NIAB‐78. S‐12, and B‐557) were grown to compare their relative performance on a sandy clay loam soil (original ECe = 1.9 dS m−1) salinized with a salt mixture (Na2SO4, NaCl, CaCl2, MgSO4 in the ratio of 9:5:5:1 on equivalent basis) to EQ levels of 10 and 20 dS m−1. The crop was raised to the flower initiation stage. The imposed salinity stress exhibited deleterious effect on the germination and vegetative growth with significant differences among the genotypes. Leaf area, stem thickness, shoot (stem + leaves) and root weights decreased with the increase in substrate salinity. NIAB‐78 showed the least decline followed by MNH‐93. Leaf thickness showed an opposite trend as an increase in this parameter was observed with the rising salinity, the maximum increase being in the case of NIAB‐78. Analysis of the leaf sap showed increased Na+ and Cl− concentrations and decreased K+ concentration with the increase in substrate salinity. A better osmotic adjustment, a lower Na+/K+ ratio and a lower Cl concentration were found in the leaves of NIAB‐78 followed by MNH‐93. This contributed towards their better growth performance under saline conditions.