Early Earth processes are typically identified through the study of mineralogical, elemental and isotopic features in the rock record, including Precambrian banded iron formations (BIF). However, post-depositional processes often obscure the primary geochemical signals, making the use of BIF as proxies for paleo-seawater and the paleo-biosphere potentially imprecise. Thus, alternative approaches are required to complement the information gained from the rock record in order to fully understand the distinctive biogeochemical processes on ancient Earth. Simulating these conditions in the laboratory is one approach, but this approach can never fully replicate the complexity of a natural environment. Therefore, finding modern environments with a unique set of geochemical and microbiological characteristics to use as analogues for BIF depositional environments can provide invaluable information. In this review, we provide an overview of the chemical, physical and biological parameters of modern, ferruginous lakes that have been used as analogue BIF environments.