Pollen-assemblage data from a sediment core from Hulun Lake in northeastern Inner Mongolia describe the changes in the vegetation and climate of the East Asian monsoon margin during the Holocene. Dry steppe dominated the lake basin from ca. 11,000 to 8000 cal yr BP, suggesting a warm and dry climate. Grasses and birch forests expanded 8000 to 6400 cal yr BP, implying a remarkable increase in the monsoon precipitation. From 6400 to 4400 cal yr BP, the climate became cooler and drier. Chenopodiaceae dominated the interval from 4400 to 3350 cal yr BP, marking extremely dry condition. Artemisia recovered 3350-2050 cal yr BP, denoting an amelioration of climatic conditions. Both temperature and precipitation decreased 2050 to 1000 cal yr BP as indicated by decreased Artemisia and the development of pine forests. During the last 1000 yr, human activities might have had a significant influence on the environment of the lake region. We suggest that the East Asian summer monsoon did not become intensified until 8000 cal yr BP due to the existence of remnant ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. Changes in the monsoon precipitation on millennial to centennial scales would be related to ocean-atmosphere interactions in the tropical Pacific.