Tropical high Andes lakes are aquatic ecosystems with peculiar limnological characteristics that are related to their geographical location and high altitude, yet they remained understudied. We present the results of a standardized survey of morphometric, physico-chemical and biotic variables in 32 high altitude lakes of the Cordillera del Tunari (Eastern Andes of Bolivia). Based on the variables measured, we identified three lake types. One group of lakes differed from the other lakes by a relatively high pH and biological productivity (as evidenced from higher densities of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish). A second group of lakes consisted of relatively large and deep water bodies with neutral to slightly acid pH and with a relatively high occurrence of the large cladoceran Daphnia pulex. The third group contained relatively small, shallow, and acid lakes with no Daphnia. Rainbow trout occurred in more than half of the lakes and catch yields were very variable. Overall, the abundances of different organism groups tended to be positively associated (e.g. phytoplankton, copepods, rotifers, fish) indicating the existence of a major productivity gradient. We found no negative associations between trout catches and densities of any of the major zooplankton groups, suggesting moderate to low top-down effects of trout on the zooplankton communities. (c) 2006 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.