In order to establish paleoenvironmental conditions during the late Quaternary, four cores from the Basin of Mexico (central Mexico) were drilled in Chalco Lake, located in the southeastern part of the basin. The upper 8 m of two parallel cores were studied, using paleomagnetic, loss-on-ignition, pollen, and diatom analyses. Based on 11 14C ages, the analyzed record spans the last 19,000 14C yr B.P. Volcanic activity has affected microfossil abundances, both directly and indirectly, resulting in absence or reduction of pollen and diatom assemblages. Important volcanic activity took place between 19,000 and 15,000 yr B.P. when the lake was a shallow alkaline marsh and an increase of grassland pollen suggests a dry, cold climate. During this interval, abrupt environmental changes with increasing moisture occurred. From 15,000 until 12,500 yr B.P. the lake level increased and the pollen indicates wetter conditions. The highest lake level is registered from 12,500 to ca. 9000 yr B.P. The end of the Pleistocene is characterized by an increase in humidity. From 9000 until ca. 3000 yr B.P. Chalco Lake was a saline marsh and the pollen record indicates warmer conditions. After 3000 yr B.P. the lake level increased and human disturbance dominates the lacustrine record.