Thermokarst lakes and drained lake basins are widespread in Arctic and sub-Arctic permafrost lowlands with ice-rich sediments. Thermokarst lake formation is a dominant mode of permafrost degradation and is linked to surface disturbance, subsequent melting of ground ice, surface subsidence, water impoundment, and positive feedbacks between lake growth and permafrost thaw, whereas lake drainage generally results in local permafrost aggradation. Thermokarst lakes characteristically have unique limnological, morphological, and biogeochemical characteristics that are closely tied to cold-climate conditions and permafrost properties. Thermokarst lakes also have a tendency toward complete or partial drainage through permafrost degradation and erosion. Thermokarst lake dynamics strongly affect the development of landscape geomorphology, hydrology, and the habitat characteristic of permafrost lowlands.