An ∼8000-cal-yr stratigraphic record of vegetation change from the Sierra de Apaneca, El Salvador, documents a mid-Holocene warm phase, followed by late Holocene cooling. Pollen evidence reveals that during the mid-Holocene (∼8000–5500 cal yr B.P.) lowland tropical plant taxa were growing at elevations ∼200–250 m higher than at present, suggesting conditions about 1.0°C warmer than those prevailing today. Cloud forest genera (Liquidambar, Juglans, Alnus, Ulmus) were also more abundant in the mid-Holocene, indicating greater cloud cover during the dry season. A gradual cooling and drying trend began by ∼5500 cal yr B.P. culminating in the modern forest composition by ∼3500 cal yr B.P. A rise in pollen from weedy plant taxa associated with agriculture occurred ∼5000 cal yr B.P. and pollen from Zea first appeared in the record at ∼4440 cal yr B.P. Human impacts on local vegetation remained high throughout the late Holocene, but decreased abruptly following the Tierra Blanca Joven (TBJ) eruption of Volcán Ilopango at ∼1520 cal yr B.P. The past 1500 years are marked by higher lake levels and periodic depositions of exogenous inorganic sediments, perhaps indicating increased climatic variability.