Recent sediments from Lake Chenghai, China, were investigated at high temporal resolution to trace both natural and anthropogenic effects on the lake using total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), organic phosphorus (Po), inorganic phosphorus (Pi) and organic carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes (delta13Corg and delta15N) in a 137Cs-dated sediment core. The results indicated that the sedimentary record covers the last 60 years, during which the lake had undergone apparent changes in nutrient sources and productivity in response to nutrient loading. Prior to the late 1980s, the nutrient contents in sediments mainly originated from algae and lake productivity was relatively stable. Since the late 1980s, increasing TOC, TN and TP concentrations together with the change of delta13Corg and delta15N suggested anthropogenic perturbations in nutrient loading and lake productivity. Endogenic nutrients derived from algae and anthropogenic inputs were two important sources of sedimentary nutrients. The anthropogenic nutrients mainly originated from the discharge of industrial wastewater and artificial cultivation of Spirulina after the middle 1980s, and domestic wastewater discharged from Yongsheng County since 1993.