Laguna de la Leche, north coastal Cuba, is a shallow (≤ 3 m), oligohaline (∼ 2.0–4.5‰) coastal lake surrounded by mangroves and cattail stands. A 227-cm core was studied using loss-on-ignition, pollen, calcareous microfossils, and plant macrofossils. From ∼6200 to ∼ 4800 cal yr BP, the area was an oligohaline lake. The period from ∼ 4800 to ∼ 4200 cal yr BP saw higher water levels and a freshened system; these changes are indicated by an increase in the regional pollen rain, as well as by the presence of charophyte oogonia and an increase in freshwater gastropods (Hydrobiidae). By ∼ 4000 cal yr BP, an open mesohaline lagoon had formed; an increase in salt-tolerant foraminifers suggests that water level increase was driven by relative sea level rise. The initiation of Laguna de la Leche correlates with a shift to wetter conditions as indicated in pollen records from the southeastern United States (e.g., Lake Tulane). This synchronicity suggests that sea level rise caused middle Holocene environmental change region-wide. Two other cores sampled from mangrove swamps in the vicinity of Laguna de la Leche indicate that a major expansion of mangroves was underway by ∼ 1700 cal yr BP.