Salvia officinalis L. is a medicinal plant containing several compounds with important pharmacological activity. In this study, we investigated the effects of water deficit (moderate and severe water deficits) on the contents of total and individual polyphenols of the aerial parts. Also, we studied the effect of drought on the antioxidant activity of methanolic extracts. Our results showed that water deficiency, as estimated by the decrease in water potential, resulted in a reduction of the biomass, plant height and total chlorophyll contents. In general, drought increased the level of total and individual polyphenols and this increase was more pronounced under moderate water deficit. These findings suggest that S. Officinalis is a sensitive species and that a severe water deficit could result in a decline in the activity of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of phenolic compounds. On the other hand, our results showed an enhancement of reducing power and the radical scavenging activity as assessed using the DPPH assay with increasing stress severity. Finally, the evaluation of the chelating capacity of the extracts was found to be altered significantly under severe treatment by 39.71%. Based on these results, it seems that drought tolerance of S. officinalis is related to the capacity of the plant to modulate its phenolics in order to face to oxidative stress caused by water limiting conditions.