This research was undertaken in order to determine and analyze various heavy metals present in sediments taken from Lake Donghu. Six heavy metals: arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) were determined by inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICPAES). Relative enrichment factors and potential ecological risk indexes were used to study the pollution status of heavy metals in sediments and assess their potential ecological risk to the environment. Sediment enrichment factors of heavy metals were found in the following order Cr > As > Cd > Zn > Cu > Pb. Potential ecological risk indices for heavy metals were: Cd > As > Cr > Cu > Pb > Zn. The calculated potential ecological risk indices showed that the lake was polluted by heavy metals. Cd had moderate potential ecological risk to the ecological environment and was the main contributor to potential toxicity response indices for various heavy metals in Lake Donghu. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to establish the significance of variations in heavy metals. The mean seasonal concentrations of metals showed that there were significant differences among seasons and sampling sites (P<0.05). The cause of pollution in Lake Donghu could be associated with industrial and human activities. We proposed strategies that can be applied in order to prevent accumulation of heavy metals in the lake.