Trends in precipitation chemistry and hydrologic and climatic data were examined as drivers of long-term changes in the chemical composition of high-elevation lakes in three wilderness areas in Colorado during 1985-2008. Sulfate concentrations in precipitation decreased at a rate of -0.15 to -0.55 μeq/l/year at 10 high-elevation National Atmospheric Deposition Program stations in the state during 1987-2008 reflecting regional reductions in SO2 emissions. In lakes where sulfate is primarily derived from atmospheric inputs, sulfate concentrations also decreased although the rates generally were less, ranging from -0.12 to -0.27 μeq/l/year. The similarity in timing and sulfur isotopic data support the hypothesis that decreases in atmospheric deposition are driving the response of high-elevation lakes in some areas of the state. By contrast, in lakes where sulfate is derived primarily from watershed weathering sources, sulfate concentrations showed sharp increases during 1985-2008. Analysis of long-term climate records indicates that annual air temperatures have increased between 0.45 and 0.93°C per decade throughout most mountainous areas of Colorado, suggesting climate as a factor. Isotopic data reveal that sulfate in these lakes is largely derived from pyrite, which may indicate climate warming is preferentially affecting the rate of pyrite weathering.