Lakes in China have undergone considerable environmental changes during the past 50 years, e.g. lake level, water area changes, as did in the past several thousands years. The enhanced human activities, such as land reclamation, application of chemical fertilizer, land use and cover, irrigation and industrialization in the catchment etc., have played an important role on the recent decades’ changes of these lakes, although constrained to a great extent by the natural impact. Comparative study on variations of lake volume (water level, depth and area) in the eastern and western lake regions of China during 1950–2000 indicated that, lake volume in the eastern region had approximately undergone a two-stage change, i.e. a dramatic decrease from the 1950s to 1970s, and a continuous increase between the 1980s and 1990s; while, in the western region, lake volume had been decreasing nearly all the time. Further studies on some typical lakes concluded that, climatic change was a primary factor for the variations of lake volume during the past 50 years, although human activities showed important effect.