A pollen record from a crater lake (Lake Tilla, 10°23′N, 12°08′E, c. 700 m asl) in the Sudanian zone of northeast Nigeria provides evidence for the persistence of woodland savanna throughout the Holocene. Wetter conditions from c. 10,000 B.P. to c. 6800 B.P. enabled the establishment of a dense Guinean savanna, though the occurrence and rapid spread of the montane element Olea hochstetteri indicates cool climatic conditions prior to c. 8800 B.P. Patches of closed dry forest may have existed, but never completely displaced the savanna vegetation. Grass fires were frequent throughout the Holocene and were probably important in promoting the open character of the vegetation. From c. 6800 B.P. onwards a gradual floristic change from a Guinean to a Sudano-Guinean savanna and a lowering of lake levels point to drier environmental conditions, which intensified around 3700 B.P. Human impact might have caused increasing sedimentation rates from c. 2500 B.P. onwards. The pollen diagram of Lake Tilla reflects a history of the savanna which appears to have been primarily controlled by climatic changes. The lack of unambiguous pollen indicators might be the reason why human activities remain palynologically hidden even for the late Holocene.