A well-dated palynological record spanning the interval ~ 40,500–7060 cal yr BP, retrieved from a peatland on the Leizhou Peninsula in south China, clearly shows regional vegetation and climate changes during the last glacial period. Pollen data showed that the study region was mainly covered by subtropical evergreen trees during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3), indicating a subtropical climate with relatively high temperature and precipitation. During MIS 2, subtropical evergreen-deciduous forest with large areas of grassland occurred, implying cooler and drier conditions. Some tropical forest elements increased during the early Holocene, indicating a warm and wet trend. Several millennial-scale oscillations of the pollen records appeared to correlate with the cold anomalies in the North Atlantic region. Our records agree well with many records from other regions, but they are a bit different than that inferred from the neighboring Huguang Maar Lake. Furthermore, our results suggest that the vegetation surrounding Xialu peatland was strongly influenced by the migration of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and variability in the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM). Changes of atmospheric CO2 concentration (pCO2) levels may have also affected the long-term vegetation changes in the study region.