© 2022 American Chemical Society.Lakes receive and actively process terrestrial dissolved organic matter (DOM) and play an important role in the global carbon cycle. Urbanization results in elevated inputs of nonpoint-source DOM to headwater streams. Retention of water in lakes allows time for alteration and transformation of the chemical composition of DOM by microbes and UV radiation. Yet, it remains unclear how anthropogenic and natural drivers impact the composition and biolability of DOM in non-pristine lakes. We used optical spectroscopy, Fourier transform ion cyclotron mass spectrometry, stable isotopic measurements, and laboratory bioincubations to investigate the chemical composition and biolability of DOM across two large data sets of lakes associated with a large gradient of urbanization in lowland Eastern China, encompassing a total of 99 lakes. We found that increased urban land use, gross domestic products, and population density in the catchment were associated with an elevated trophic level index, higher chlorophyll-a, higher bacterial abundance, and a higher amount of organic carbon with proportionally higher contribution of aliphatic and peptide-like DOM fractions, which can be highly biolabile. Catchment areas, water depth, lake area: catchment area, gross primary productivity, δ18O-H2O, and bacterial abundance, however, had comparatively little linkage with DOM composition and biolability. Urban land use is currently intensifying in many developing countries, and our results anticipate an increase in the level of biolabile aliphatic DOM from nonpoint sources and accelerated carbon cycling in lake ecosystems in such regions.