The objectives of this study were to (i) determine the optimum number of whole leaves to retain on a tomato plant for effective blossom-end rot (BER) management and (ii) explore the relationship between shoot calcium (Ca) and fruit Ca in non-defoliated plants in two different sized fruit cultivars, a large-fruited cultivar ‘Momotaro fight’ and a medium-fruited cultivar ‘Cindy sweet’. Treatments involved maintaining 18, 15 and 12 leaves on a plant. All lateral shoots were removed regularly throughout the growing period except the shoot closest to the flowering truss in the 18-leaf treatment. At the length of 10cm, these shoots were sampled for real time Ca determination using a hand held Ca2+ meter. In the plants defoliated to 18 leaves, BER was higher in ‘Momotaro fight’ at 10% compared to 2% in ‘Cindy sweet’. Fruit growth rate was significantly increased by defoliation in ‘Momotaro fight’, however no significant difference was observed among treatments in ‘Cindy sweet’. Defoliating to 12 leaves increased daily Ca transport rate by 59% and 37% in ‘Momotaro fight’ and ‘Cindy sweet’, respectively. Defoliating to 12 leaves increased the water-soluble Ca concentration in the distal part of fruit by 34% and 14% in ‘Momotaro fight’ and ‘Cindy sweet’, respectively. In the plants defoliated to 18 leaves where only old yellowish leaves were removed, a significant steady decrease was observed in the concentration of water soluble Ca in the distal part of fruit with increase in truss order. There was a significant linear relationship between water-soluble Ca concentration in the distal part of the fruit and Ca concentration in the lateral shoot of plants defoliated to 18 leaves. We conclude that under moderate water stress by root zone restriction and also certain other BER inductive conditions, defoliation to 12–15 leaves on a tomato plant should be a promising approach for decreasing BER incidence in susceptible large fruit cultivars.