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[en] Lake Qinghai in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau is the largest lake in China. This study firstly reported the geochemistry of Cd in the lake. Water samples were collected from Lake Qinghai (n = 69) and Buha River (n = 12), while sediment (n = 22) and topsoil (n = 45) samples were collected from the lake and around the lake area, respectively. In addition, pore water samples (n = 20) were separated from sediment samples. Water samples were analyzed for pH, K, Na, Ca, Mg, Cl, S, and Cd, while sediment and topsoil samples were analyzed for K, Na, Ca, Mg, Al, Fe, Mn, S, Sc, and Cd. The average concentration of Cd was 0.014 μg L−1 in the water of Lake Qinghai and 0.007 μg L−1 in the water of Buha River. However, the average concentration of Cd was 0.320 μg L−1 in the sediment pore water, much higher than that in the lake water and river water. Cadmium concentration in the lake water might be mainly controlled by salinity, while it in the pore water might be mainly controlled by carbonate minerals. Cadmium concentration in the river water might be controlled by alkalinity and pH. The average concentration of Cd in the sediment was 0.284 mg kg−1. The enrichment of Cd in the lake sediment was significantly higher than that in the topsoil around the lake. Anthropogenic atmospheric deposition of Cd did not led to the increase in dissolved Cd level in the lake water, but led to its enrichment in the lake sediment.