In the present study, time series for annual, monthly rainfall and number of rainy days per year were analysed to quantify spatial variability and temporal trends for 22 rainfall stations distributed in northeastern Algeria for the period 1978–2010. The Mann–Kendall test and the Sen’s slope estimator were applied to assess the significance and magnitude of the trend. The results showed that precipitation decreases spatially from North to South and from East to West. The application of the Mann–Kendall test (for 0.05% threshold) to the time series data showed that for annual precipitation, no station showed statistically significant trends, unlike the number of rainy days, where there was a significant negative trend in four stations (Jijel, Constantine, Oum El Bouaghi and Tébessa). For the monthly time series, significant positive trends were observed during the months of September in the coastal stations and July for the plateaus and southern Saharan Atlas stations, while significant negative trends were recorded during the months of February and March for the stations of the extreme East in the study area. These results revealed that for the period analysed, there was no significant climate change in northeastern Algeria but there is a seasonal delay having important agroecological implications.