Recent studies have revealed important and versatile roles that Archaea play in a wide variety of environmental processes on Earth. In this study, we investigated the abundance and diversity of archaeal communities in lake water and a 5 m sediment core collected from Qinghai Lake on the Tibetan Plateau, north-western China. An integrated approach was employed including geochemistry, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR) and 16S rRNA gene analysis. Here, we show that Archaea dominated the prokaryotic community in the lake sediments. Members of putative marine benthic groups [Marine Benthic Group (MBG)-B, -C and -D] and Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotic Group (MCG) were dominant, many of which were previously reported to be predominantly present in deep-sea environments. These results demonstrate that these groups are not limited to marine sediments. Despite their ubiquitous presence in aquatic environments, metabolic functions of these important groups largely remain unknown. Whereas many of these groups (such as MBG-B and -D) have typically been found in methane-hydrate deposits in marine environments, our carbon isotopic and molecular results from Qinghai Lake sediments indicate a lacustrine origin.