The quality and quantity of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) lint produced are complex traits controlled by multiple processes. The physiology behind yield and quality variations is not completely understood. Objectives for this research were to document the physiological strategies diverse cotton genotypes take to achieve their yield and fiber quality. The genotypes ‘DPL 444BR’, ‘DPL 555BR’, ‘FM 800BR’, ‘MD 9’, ‘MD 15-OP’, ‘MD 29’, ‘MD 51 normal’, ‘MD 51 okra’, ‘PM 1218BR’, and ‘ST 4892BR’ were grown in the field from 2005-2008. Dry matter partitioning, leaf photosynthesis, chlorophyll concentration, root hydraulic conductance, lint yield, yield components, and fiber quality data were collected. Lint yields ranged from 1675 to 1119 kg ha-1 among the genotypes. The size of the available carbon assimilate pool generated by a genotype appeared to be related to lint yield production. Genotypes used different strategies to generate this carbon assimilate pool, i.e. through improved photosynthetic rates and/or solar radiation interception, and then convert that carbon into lint production. Fiber quality variations, however, could not easily be explained by just variations in the plants ability to produce carbon assimilates. Beyond just the quantity of carbon assimilates, it is the manner in which the plant assembles these carbon skeletons into the cellular matrix that determines the quality of the fiber produced. These research findings can be utilized to meet the challenge of future yield and fiber quality improvements.