While extensive knowledge exists on the relationship between nutrient loading and nutrient concentrations in lakes in the cold temperate region, few studies have been conducted in warm lakes, not least in warm arid lakes. This is unfortunate as a larger proportion of the world's lakes will be situated in arid climates in the future due to climate change and a larger proportion will suffer from a higher frequency of intensive drought. We conducted a comprehensive 11-13 year mass balance study in two interconnected shallow Mediterranean lakes in Turkey, covering a period with substantial changes in climate conditions. The upstream lake was only affected by natural changes in nutrient loading, while the downstream lake was additionally influenced by sewage diversion and restoration by fish removal. Contrasting to experience from north temperate lakes we found an increase in in-lake concentrations of total phosphorus and inorganic nitrogen (ammonia as well as nitrate) in dry years despite lower external nutrient loading, and submerged macrophytes did not increase the nitrogen retention capacity of the lakes. In contrast, fish removal modulated the nitrogen concentration as in north temperate lakes, but the effect was not long-lasting. Our results suggest that climate warming reduces the nutrient retention capacity of shallow lakes in the Mediterranean and exacerbates eutrophication. Lower thresholds of nutrient loading for shifting turbid shallow lakes to a clear water state are therefore to be expected in arid zones in a future warmer climate, with important management implications.