Pandas: How to select N random rows from a DataFrame

Updated: February 20, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


When working with large datasets, it’s often necessary to sample data for analysis to ensure your computations are manageable and timesaving. Pandandas, a powerful data manipulation library in Python, provides intuitive methods for selecting random rows from a DataFrame. This tutorial covers various approaches to randomly sample n rows from a pandas DataFrame.

Sampling in Pandas

Pandas DataFrames are versatile structures capable of handling complex data manipulation tasks. The .sample() method is designed to facilitate sampling rows or columns from the DataFrame, providing flexibility in statistical modeling and data analysis.

Basic Sampling: The .sample() Method

To begin, let’s sample a single random row from a DataFrame:

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

df = pd.DataFrame(np.random.rand(10, 4), columns=list('ABCD'))


This code creates a 10×4 DataFrame filled with random values and then selects one random row. The .sample() method’s n parameter specifies the number of rows to return.

Sampling Multiple Rows

To select multiple random rows, simply adjust the n parameter:


This would select 5 random rows from our DataFrame.

Using Seed for Reproducibility

For reproducibility purposes, Pandas allows the use of a random seed. This ensures consistent output across different executions.

df.sample(n=3, random_state=1)

This command will always produce the same 3 random rows from the DataFrame.

Sampling a Fraction of the DataFrame

Instead of a fixed number of rows, you might want to sample a fraction of the DataFrame. This is achieved with the frac parameter:

df.sample(frac=0.5, random_state=2)

This samples 50% of the rows from the DataFrame. Using the random_state parameter ensures reproducibility.

Advanced Sampling: Using Weights

The .sample() method also accepts the weights parameter, which allows for weighted sampling. This means that rows can be selected with probabilities proportional to their weights.

weights = [0.1, 0, 0.3, 0.6, 0, 0.2, 0.5, 0.1, 0.1, 0.2]
df.sample(n=4, weights=weights, random_state=3)

This will preferentially select rows according to the specified weights.

Condition-based Sampling

Advanced scenarios might require condition-based sampling, where rows are sampled based on specific conditions. For example, to sample rows only if the value in column A is above 0.5:

sampled_df = df[df['A'] > 0.5].sample(n=2, random_state=4)

This restricts the sample to rows meeting the criteria, offering more targeted sampling capabilities.

Sampling Rows with Replacement

Lastly, in some statistical computations, it might be necessary to sample with replacement. This means the same row can be selected more than once.

df.sample(n=3, replace=True, random_state=5)

This approach is particularly useful in bootstrapping methods and simulating datasets.


Whether for statistical analysis, data cleaning, or just a random inspection, selecting n random rows from a DataFrame is a fundamental task in data science. Through the various options provided by Pandas, users can perform simple random sampling, weighted sampling, condition-based sampling, sampling a fraction of the DataFrame, and even sampling with replacement with ease and efficiency. By integrating these techniques, one can facilitate better data analysis, modeling, and decision-making processes.