Abstract The quantification of carbon burial in lake sediments, and carbon fluxes derived from different origins are crucial to understand modern lacustrine carbon budgets, and to assess the role of lakes in the global carbon cycle. In this study, we estimated carbon burial in the sediment of Lake Qinghai, the largest inland lake in China, and the carbon fluxes derived from different origins. We find that: (1) The organic carbon burial rate in lake sediment is approximately 7.23gm−2a−1, which is comparable to rates documented in many large lakes worldwide. We determined that the flux of riverine particulate organic carbon (POC) is approximately 10 times higher than that of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Organic matter in lake sediments is primarily derived from POC in lake water, of which approximately 80% is of terrestrial origin. (2) The inorganic carbon burial rate in lake sediment is slightly higher than that of organic carbon. The flux of riverine dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) is approximately 20 times that of DOC, and more than 70% of the riverine DIC is drawn directly and/or indirectly from atmospheric CO2. (3) Both DIC and DOC are concentrated in lake water, suggesting that the lake serves as a sink for both organic and inorganic carbon over long term timescales. (4) Our analysis suggests that the carbon burial rates in Lake Qinghai would be much higher in warmer climatic periods than in cold ones, implying a growing role in the global carbon cycle under a continued global warming scenario.