Low transpiration rates in pearl millet under fully irrigated conditions decrease plant water use at vegetative stage and then increase the water availability during grain filling and finally the terminal drought tolerance. Hundred and thirteen recombinant inbred lines developed from a cross between H77/833-2 and PRLT2/89-33 (terminal drought-sensitive × tolerant genotype) were evaluated to map transpiration rate (Tr, a proxy for canopy conductance), organ weights, leaf area and thickness and to study their interactions. Transpiration rate was increased by two H77/833-2 and two PRLT2/89-33 alleles on linkage group (LG) 2, whose importance depended on the vapor pressure deficit. The two H77/833-2 and one PRLT2/89-33 alleles co-mapped to a previously identified major terminal drought tolerance quantitative trait locus (QTL), although in a much smaller genetic interval. The other Tr allele from H77/833-2 also enhanced biomass dry weight and co-located with a formerly identified stover and tillering QTL. Leaf characteristics were linked to two loci on LG7. Plant water use was increased and decreased by different loci combinations for Tr, tillering and leaf characteristics, whose respective importance depended on the environmental conditions. Therefore, different alleles influence plant water use and have close interactions with one another and with the environment, so that different ideotypes for plant water use exist or could be designed from specific allele combinations conferring particular physiological characteristics for specific adaptation to a range of terminal drought conditions.