Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were analyzed in sediment cores from five small forest lakes in Finland. The catchments of the lakes were undisturbed (2 lakes) or only very slightly disturbed by human activity (3 lakes). None of the lakes had runoff delivery of PAH from their shores. Lead-210 dating of four lakes enabled the calculation of individual PAH fluxes over the past 100 to 150 yr. The sedimentary distribution of abiotic PAH in these lakes appears to be indicative of the development of combustion-generated energy production in Finland and adjacent countries. This development is reflected in an overall increase in sedimentary PAH since about 1850. After World War II the rate of accumulation of PAH continues to increase. The large variation between the PAH fluxes of different lakes indicates different trapping efficiencies and/or different preservation of the PAH compounds due to limnological differences between the lakes.