A lacustrine sequence from Lake Sedmo Rilsko (altitude 2095 m) in the northwest of Rila Mountain, Bulgaria, was analysed on the basis of 84 pollen spectra and three 14C accelerator mass spectrometry dates. The lower part of the sequence (413–530 cm) corresponds to the Late-glacial. Three phases, two stadial and one interstadial, are characterized by the dominance of mountain–steppe herb vegetation composed of Artemisia, Chenopodiaceae and Poaceae, with single trees of Pinus and shrub land of Juniperus and Ephedra. The identification of pollen grains of Abies, Quercus robur-type, Corylus, Acer, Fagus and other mesophilous trees suggests that they survived the harsh Late-glacial conditions in refuges below an altitude of 1000 m, where moisture was sufficient for their growth. In the early Holocene period, Betula forests at high altitudes and, below them, closed deciduous forests with Quercus, Tilia, Ulmus and Corylus, occurred from 11800 until approx. 6700 cal. BP. The formation of the coniferous belt dominated by Pinus sylvestris, Pinus peuce and Abies alba lasted from between 6700 and 5000 cal. BP. The forest dynamics in the Subboreal and the Subatlantic ended with the invasion of Fagus sylvatica and Picea abies after approx. 4500 and 3300 cal. BP, respectively. Indications of anthropogenic activities, expansion of agriculture in the lowland foothills, and livestock grazing in the mountain meadows and pastures, are clearly evident from the pollen diagram from 2400 cal. BP onwards.