Pollen evidence from Lake Shayema, Mianning County, was obtained to examine postglacial vegetation and climatic change in southwestern Sichuan, China. The sclerophyllous character of the region's warm temperate vegetation today is a reflection of extreme drought in spring before the onset of the Asian monsoons. The pollen record displays several changes in the vegetation over the last 11,000 yr. From 11,000 to 9100 yr B.P., cold-tolerant species, such as Abies , Betula, and deciduous oaks, dominated the vegetation. Between 9100 and 7800 yr B.P., the abundance of deciduous oaks decreased and evergreen oaks increased, as did Tsuga and mesic deciduous species. This change suggests a warming climate with increased precipitation. From 7800 to 4000 yr B.P., sclerophyllous species increased at the expense of mesic deciduous species, an indication that precipitation was becoming more seasonal. Except for increased disturbance starting ca. 1000 yr B.P., the predominance of sclerophyllous vegetation continued until today. The pollen results are compatible with proposed global circulation hypotheses of a strengthened monsoon system during the early to mid Holocene.