Abstract We investigated the vertical profiles of 239+240Pu, 137Cs, and excess 210Pb ( 210Pb ex) in sediment core samples obtained from two freshwater lakes and two brackish lakes situated near the first commercial spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Japan, before the final test of the plant using actual spent nuclear fuel. The inventory of 239+240Pu in those lakes was larger than that in soil in Rokkasho, which indicated the inflow of 239+240Pu from the catchment area in addition to direct deposition on the lake surfaces. The 137Cs inventory in sediments of the brackish lakes was lower than that in the soil, which showed that part of the 137Cs was removed from the sediments by the brackish water or that it was not deposited into the sediments, because of the high solubility of Cs in brackish water. The 137Cs inventory in sediments of the freshwater lakes was higher than that of the brackish lakes, and comparable with that in soil except for one core sample out of four. The 239+240Pu/ 137Cs ratio in freshwater lake sediments was higher than that in soil, and that indicated that part of the 137Cs was lost from the sediments. The low inventory of 137Cs may be attributable to competition for absorption sites in sediments with ammonium ions formed in the reducing environment which occurs from summer to fall in the sediments. Those data will be used as background data on the artificial radionuclides in the lakes to assess the effect of released radionuclides on their concentrations.