We studied the trophic development of the past 30-100 years in eight moderately deep Dutch lakes based on their sedimentary fossil diatom assemblages. The dominant diatoms indicating meso- to eutrophic conditions were Aulacoseira subarctica, Cyclotella ocellata, C. cyclopuncta, C. meneghiniana, Puncticulata bodanica, Aulacoseira granulata, Cyclostephanos dubius, C. invisitatus, Stephanodiscus hantzschii, S. medius, and S. parvus. Ordination of diatom data separated the lakes into four groups according to their total phosphorus concentrations (TP), water supply, water management, and origin. The first group consists of dike-breach lakes, which were in stable eutrophic to hypertrophic conditions throughout the past century with diatom-inferred TP (DI-TP) concentrations of between 70 and 300 μg l<sup>-1</sup>. The main factors influencing these dike-breach lakes are river management, ground water supply of riverine origin, and local land use. The second group are artificial lakes of fluctuating oligo- to mesotrophic conditions and DI-TP concentrations of 10-30 μg l<sup>-1</sup>. Only one of the artificial lakes showed a DI-TP increase due to changes in catchment agricultural practice. A third group includes an artificial moat and an inland dike-breach lake with DI-TP concentrations of 50-100 μg l<sup>-1</sup>. The fourth group contains an individual dike-breach lake with stable mesotrophic conditions of 50 μg l<sup>-1</sup> throughout the past century. Rather than showing a regional pattern, the studied lakes behave very individualistically with regard to their trophic history, reflecting changes in the local hydrology and in their nutrient sources. © The Author(s) 2009.