Aims The research on the response of plant functional traits to environmental change, such as precipitation change and nutrient additions is very important to understand how plant species adapt to variable environments. Methods We conducted a pot experiment with a gradient of water treatments (increase precipitation by 50%, HW; decrease precipitation by 50%, LW; take 498 mm precipitation as control, MW) and nutrient additions (without nutrient addition, CK; nitrogen (N) addition, NA; phosphorus (P) addition, PA; nitrogen and phosphorus additions, N+P). We investigated 11 plant functional traits and aboveground biomass of Leymus chinensis. Important findings The effects of moisture on plant height, tillers, stem biomass, leaf biomass, leaf area, leaf mass, net photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, water use efficiency were significant. The effects of fertilizers on tillers, stem biomass, net photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, water use efficiency were significant. And the combination of fertilizers and moisture had a significant influence on tillers, stem biomass, transpiration rate and water use efficiency (two-way ANOVA). The pattern of functional traits in response to precipitation differed between plants with varied fertilizer additions. Tillers and leaf area were increased in treatments with HW under N and N+P additions, but not changed under CK and P addition. Stem biomass increased along the precipitation gradients under CK, N addition and P addition, but did not change under N+P additions. Specific leaf area with HW was significantly higher than that of MW under N addition, but not changed under other nutrient addition. Short-term nutrient additions significantly affected photosynthetic physiological traits of L. chinensis, but it had no significant effect on morphological traits under the same precipitation. The aboveground biomass of L. chinensis increased with the increase of precipitation, and reached the highest level of 522.55 g·m -2 with HW treatment under N addition. In conclusion, our results indicate that the functional traits in L. chinensis respond to precipitation addition and the patterns of responses differ under different nutrient additions, reflecting the adaptation to changes in water and nutrient availability.