Chickpea is an important food legume crop of Turkey and is largely grown for human consumption on low moisture or salt-affected soils. The objective of the study was to find the effects of NaCl stress at electrical conductivities of 4.5, 8.6, 12.7 and 16.3 dS/m and seed sizes (7, 8 and 9 mm) on germination and early seedling growth of three popular chickpea cultivars (AKN-97, Gokce and Uzunlu-99). Mean frequency of germination, germination time, germination index, root length, shoot length and seedling fresh weight showed seed size-dependent responses of cultivars to salt stress. In general, small seeds germinated and grew more rapidly compared to medium and large seeds of the same cultivars against all levels of salt stress, with the best results in cultivar Uzunlu-99. No effect of NaCl treatments was observed on frequency of germination; however, a drastic decrease in early seedling growth was recorded at increased NaCl concentrations. Regression analysis results showed a significantly positive relationship (P < 0.01) between seed size and mean germination time, whereas a significantly negative relationship was recorded between seed size and germination index, root length, shoot length. Moreover, linear regression values apparently confirmed that increased seed size in each cultivar affected decreased germination index, root and shoot lengths with enhanced mean germination time. Thus, it was concluded that the use of small seeds could considerably reduce the production costs of chickpea in salt-affected soils.