an experiment was carried out to establish the comparative growth of three vigna unguiculata cultivars throught determination of leaf area, dry matter partition and growth analysis. leaf area established throught the method of relationship between total dry matter of leaves and dry matter of discs with knowed area, and estimated by the product of length x maximum width of leaf x 1.75did not present differences. cultivar epace-1 showed higher leaf area duration in relation to epace-6 and epace-8 cowpea cultivars. vigna unguiculata presented an initial exponential phase of dry matter accumulation and a sygmoid phase post-maturity. accumulation of biomass in the reproductive part of cowpea 'epace-1' was later and more effective in relation to epace-6 and epace-8 cultivars. cultivar epace-1 presented later development in relation to 'epace.6' and 'epace-8'. epace-6 cultivar of cowpea showed higher growth on the second part of the plant life cycle in relation to epace-8 and epace-1 cultivars. vigna unguiculata plants presented higher net assimilation rate and relative growth rate from 30 to 50 days after emergence. cowpea snowed higher leaf area ratio and leaf weight ratio from 28 to 42 days after emergence.