The mechanism underlying the effect of drought on the photosynthetic traits of leaves in forest ecosystems in subtropical regions is unclear. In this study, three limiting processes (stomatal, mesophyll and biochemical limitations) that control the photosynthetic capacity and three resource use efficiencies (intrinsic water use efficiency (iWUE), nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and light use efficiency (LUE)), which were characterized as the interactions between photosynthesis and environmental resources, were estimated in two species ( Schima superba and Pinus massoniana) under drought conditions. A quantitative limitation analysis demonstrated that the drought-induced limitation of photosynthesis in Schima superba was primarily due to stomatal limitation, whereas for Pinus massoniana, both stomatal and non-stomatal limitations generally exhibited similar magnitudes. Although the mesophyll limitation represented only 1% of the total limitation in Schima superba, it accounted for 24% of the total limitations for Pinus massoniana. Furthermore, a positive relationship between the LUE and NUE and a marginally negative relationship or trade-off between the NUE and iWUE were observed in the control plots. However, drought disrupted the relationships between the resource use efficiencies. Our findings may have important implications for reducing the uncertainties in model simulations and advancing the understanding of the interactions between ecosystem functions and climate change.