Littoral (lake shore) macroinvertebrate communities were studied in eight natural lakes affected by fallout from the Chernobyl accident. The lakes spanned a range in 137Cs contamination from 100 to 15500 kBq m−2 and estimated external dose rates ranged from 0.13 to 30.7 μGy h−1. General linear models were used to assess whether abundance of individuals, taxon richness, Berger-Parker dominance and Shannon-Wiener diversity varied across the lakes. Step-wise multiple regressions were used to relate variation in total abundance, taxon richness, Berger-Parker dominance, Shannon-Wiener diversity, taxon richness within major groups of macroinvertebrates and abundance of the more common individual taxa to the measured environmental characteristics (conductivity, pH, total hardness and phosphate; lake area, lake maximum depth and total external dose) of the lakes. No evidence was found in this study that the ecological status of lake communities has been influenced by radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl accident. Indeed, the most contaminated lake, Glubokoye, contained the highest richness of aquatic invertebrates. Taxon richness in the eight study lakes varied from 22 (Svyatskoe #7) to 42 (Glubokoye) which spans a range typical for uncontaminated lakes in the region. Since 90Sr is readily-absorbed by Mollusca, estimated dose rates to this group exceeded those for other invertebrate groups in two lakes (Perstok and Glubokoye). However this study found no association between mollusc diversity or abundance of individual snail species and variation between lakes in the external radiation dose. Indeed Glubokoye, the lake most contaminated by 90Sr, had the highest richness of freshwater snails per sample (an average of 8.9 taxa per sample).