The vegetation and land cover structure of tundra areas is fragmented when compared to other biomes. Thus, satellite images of high resolution are required for producing land cover classifications, in order to reveal the actual distribution of land cover types across these large and remote areas. We produced and compared different land cover classifications using three satellite images (QuickBird, Aster and Landsat TM5) with different pixel sizes (2.4 m, 15 m and 30 m pixel size, respectively). The study area, in north-eastern European Russia, was visited in July 2007 to obtain ground reference data. The QuickBird image was classified using supervised segmentation techniques, while the Aster and Landsat TM5 images were classified using a pixel-based supervised classification method. The QuickBird classification showed the highest accuracy when tested against field data, while the Aster image was generally more problematic to classify than the Landsat TM5 image. Use of smaller pixel sized images distinguished much greater levels of landscape fragmentation. The overall mean patch sizes in the QuickBird, Aster, and Landsat TM5-classifications were 871 m2, 2141 m2 and 7433 m2, respectively. In the QuickBird classification, the mean patch size of all the tundra and peatland vegetation classes was smaller than one pixel of the Landsat TM5 image. Water bodies and fens in particular occur in the landscape in small or elongated patches, and thus cannot be realistically classified from larger pixel sized images. Land cover patterns vary considerably at such a fine-scale, so that a lot of information is lost if only medium resolution satellite images are used. It is crucial to know the amount and spatial distribution of different vegetation types in arctic landscapes, as carbon dynamics and other climate related physical, geological and biological processes are known to vary greatly between vegetation types.