Subarctic permafrost peatlands are important soil organic carbon pools, and improved knowledge about peat properties and peatland sensitivity to past climate change is essential when predicting future response to a warmer climate and associated feedback mechanisms. In this study, Holocene peatland development and permafrost dynamics of four subarctic peat plateaus in Finnmark, northern Norway have been investigated through detailed analyses of plant macrofossils and geochemical properties. Peatland inception occurred around 9800 cal. yr BP and 9200 cal. yr BP at the two continental sites Suossjavri and Iskoras. Younger basal peat ages were found at the two coastal locations Lakselv and Karlebotn, at least partly caused by the time lag between deglaciation and emergence of land by isostatic uplift. Here, peatland development started around 6150 cal. yr BP and 5150 cal. yr BP, respectively. All four peatlands developed as wet fens throughout most of the Holocene. Permafrost aggradation, causing frost heave and a shift in the vegetation assemblage from wet fen to dry bog species, probably did not occur until during the last millennium, ca. 950 cal. yr BP in Karlebotn and ca. 800 cal. yr BP in Iskoras, and before ca. 150 cal. yr BP in Lakselv and ca. 100 cal. yr BP in Suossjavri. In Karlebotn, there are indications of a possible earlier permafrost phase around 2200 cal. yr BP due to climatic cooling at the late Subboreal to early Subatlantic transition. The mean long-term Holocene carbon accumulation rate at all four sites was 12.3 +/- 4.1 gC m-2 yr-1 (+/- SD) and the mean soil organic carbon storage was 97 +/- 46 kgC m-2.