Freshwater ecosystems and their biodiversity are presently seriously threatened by global development and population growth, leading to increases in nutrient inputs and intensification of eutrophication-induced problems in receiving fresh waters, particularly in lakes. Climate change constitutes another threat exacerbating the symptoms of eutrophication and species migration and loss. Unequivocal evidence of climate change impacts is still highly fragmented despite the intensive research, in part due to the variety and uncertainty of climate models and underlying emission scenarios but also due to the different approaches applied to study its effects. We first describe the strengths and weaknesses of the multi-faceted approaches that are presently available for elucidating the effects of climate change in lakes, including space-for-time substitution, time series, experiments, palaeoecology and modelling. Reviewing combined results from studies based on the various approaches, we describe the likely effects of climate changes on biological communities, trophic dynamics and the ecological state of lakes. We further discuss potential mitigation and adaptation measures to counteract the effects of climate change on lakes and, finally, we highlight some of the future challenges that we face to improve our capacity for successful prediction.