Since the late 1950s, land reclamation from lakes has been a common human disturbance to ecosystems in China. It has greatly diminished the lake area, and altered natural ecological succession. However, little is known about its impact on the carbon (C) cycle. We conducted an experiment to examine the variations of chemical properties of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and C mineralization under four land uses, i.e. coniferous forest (CF), evergreen broadleaf forest (EBF), bamboo forest (BF) and cropland (CL) in a reclaimed land area from Taihu Lake. Soils and lake sediments (LS) were incubated for 360 days in the laboratory and the CO 2 evolution from each soil during the incubation was fit to a double exponential model. The DOM was analyzed at the beginning and end of the incubation using UV and fluorescence spectroscopy to understand the relationships between DOM chemistry and C mineralization. The C mineralization in our study was influenced by the land use with different vegetation and management. The greatest cumulative CO 2-C emission was observed in BF soil at 0–10 cm depth. The active C pool in EBF at 10–25 cm had longer (62 days) mean residence time (MRT). LS showed the highest cumulative CO 2-C and shortest MRT comparing with the terrestrial soils. The carbohydrates in DOM were positively correlated with CO 2-C evolution and negatively correlated to phenols in the forest soils. Cropland was consistently an outlier in relationships between DOM chemistry and CO 2-evolution, highlighting the unique effects that this land use on soil C cycling, which may be attributed the tillage practices. Our results suggest that C mineralization is closely related to the chemical composition of DOM and sensitive to its variation. Conversion of an aquatic ecosystem into a terrestrial ecosystem may alter the chemical structure of DOM, and then influences soil C mineralization.