Variations in lake area and depth reflect climatically induced changes in the water balance of overflowing as well as closed lakes. A new global data base of lake status has been assembled, and is used to compare two simulations for 6 ka (6000 yr ago) made with successive R15 versions of the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM). Simulated water balance was expressed as anomalies of annual precipitation minus evaporation (P-E); observed water balance as anomalies of lake status. Comparisons were made visually, by comparing regional averages, and by a statistic that compares the signs of simulated P-E anomalies (smoothly interpolated to the lake sites) with the status anomalies. Both CCM0 and CCM1 Showed enhanced Northern-Hemisphere monsoons at 6 ka. Both underestimated the effect, but CCM1 fitted the spatial patterns better. In the northern mid- and high-latitudes the two versions differed more, and fitted the data less satisfactorily. CCM1 performed better than CCM0 in North America and central Eurasia, but not in Europe. Both models (especially CCM0) simulated excessive aridity in interior Eurasia. The models were systematically wrong in the southern mid-latitudes. Problems may have been caused by inadequate treatment of changes in sea-surface conditions in both models. Palaeolake status data will continue to provide a bench-mark for the evaluation of modelling improvements.