Bristlecone pine trees are exceptionally long-lived, and with the incorporation of remnant material have been used to construct multi-millennial length ring-width chronologies. These chronologies can provide valuable information about past temperature and moisture variability. In this study, we outline a method to build a moisture-sensitive bristlecone chronology and assess the robustness and consistency of this sensitivity over the past 1200. yr using new reconstructions of Arkansas River flow (AD 1275-2002 and 1577-2002) and the summer Palmer Drought Sensitivity Index. The chronology, a composite built from parts of three collections in the central Rocky Mountains, is a proxy for decadal-scale moisture variability for the past 18 centuries. Since the sample size is small in some portions of the time series, the chronology should be considered preliminary; the timing and duration of drought events are likely the most robust characteristics. This chronology suggests that the region experienced increased aridity during the medieval period, as did much of western North America, but that the timing and duration of drought episodes within this period were somewhat different from those in other western locations, such as the upper Colorado River basin. ?? 2010 University of Washington.