Widely present in boreal regions, peatlands contain large carbon stocks because of their hydrologic properties and high water content, which makes primary productivity exceed decomposition rates. We have enhanced the global land surface model ORCHIDEE by introducing a hydrological representation of northern peatlands. These peatlands are represented as a new plant functional type (PFT) in the model, with specific hydrological properties for peat soil. In this paper, we focus on the representation of the hydrology of northern peatlands and on the evaluation of the hydrological impact of this implementation. A prescribed map based on the inventory of Yu et al. (2010) defines peatlands as a fraction of a grid cell represented as a PFT comparable to C.sub.3 grasses, with adaptations to reproduce shallow roots and higher photosynthesis stress. The treatment of peatland hydrology differs from that of other vegetation types by the fact that runoff from other soil types is partially directed towards the peatlands (instead of directly to the river network). The evaluation of this implementation was carried out at different spatial and temporal scales, from site evaluation to larger scales such as the watershed scale and the scale of all northern latitudes. The simulated net ecosystem exchanges agree with observations from three FLUXNET sites. Water table positions were generally close to observations, with some exceptions in winter. Compared to other soils, the simulated peat soils have a reduced seasonal variability in water storage. The seasonal cycle of the simulated extent of inundated peatlands is compared to flooded area as estimated from satellite observations. The model is able to represent more than 89.5 % of the flooded areas located in peatland areas, where the modelled extent of inundated peatlands reaches 0.83Ã10.sup.6 km.sup.2 . However, the extent of peatlands in northern latitudes is too small to substantially impact the large-scale terrestrial water storage north of 45.sup.â N. Therefore, the inclusion of peatlands has a weak impact on the simulated river discharge rates in boreal regions.