Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIRS) can provide detailed information on organic and minerogenic constituents of sediment records. Based on a large number of sediment samples of varying age (0–340 000 yrs) and from very diverse lake settings in Antarctica, Argentina, Canada, Macedonia/Albania, Siberia, and Sweden, we have developed universally applicable calibration models for the quantitative determination of biogenic silica (BSi; n = 816), total inorganic carbon (TIC; n = 879), and total organic carbon (TOC; n = 3164) using FTIRS. These models are based on the differential absorbance of infrared radiation at specific wavelengths with varying concentrations of individual parameters, due to molecular vibrations associated with each parameter. The calibration models have low prediction errors and the predicted values are highly correlated with conventionally measured values (R = 0.94–0.99). Robustness tests indicate the accuracy of the newly developed FTIRS calibration models is similar to that of conventional geochemical analyses. Consequently FTIRS offers a useful and rapid alternative to conventional analyses for the quantitative determination of BSi, TIC, and TOC. The rapidity, cost-effectiveness, and small sample size required enables FTIRS determination of geochemical properties to be undertaken at higher resolutions than would otherwise be possible with the same resource allocation, thus providing crucial sedimentological information for climatic and environmental reconstructions.