Purpose: Lactate is an established prognosticator in critical care. However, there still is insufficient evidence about its role in predicting outcome in COVID-19. This is of particular concern in older patients who have been mostly affected during the initial surge in 2020. Methods: This prospective international observation study (The COVIP study) recruited patients aged 70 years or older (ClinicalTrials.gov ID: NCT04321265) admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with COVID-19 disease from March 2020 to February 2021. In addition to serial lactate values (arterial blood gas analysis), we recorded several parameters, including SOFA score, ICU procedures, limitation of care, ICU- and 3-month mortality. A lactate concentration ≥ 2.0 mmol/L on the day of ICU admission (baseline) was defined as abnormal. The primary outcome was ICU-mortality. The secondary outcomes 30-day and 3-month mortality. Results: In total, data from 2860 patients were analyzed. In most patients (68%), serum lactate was lower than 2 mmol/L. Elevated baseline serum lactate was associated with significantly higher ICU- and 3-month mortality (53% vs. 43%, and 71% vs. 57%, respectively, p < 0.001). In the multivariable analysis, the maximum lactate concentration on day 1 was independently associated with ICU mortality (aOR 1.06 95% CI 1.02–1.11; p = 0.007), 30-day mortality (aOR 1.07 95% CI 1.02–1.13; p = 0.005) and 3-month mortality (aOR 1.15 95% CI 1.08–1.24; p < 0.001) after adjustment for age, gender, SOFA score, and frailty. In 826 patients with baseline lactate ≥ 2 mmol/L sufficient data to calculate the difference between maximal levels on days 1 and 2 (∆ serum lactate) were available. A decreasing lactate concentration over time was inversely associated with ICU mortality after multivariate adjustment for SOFA score, age, Clinical Frailty Scale, and gender (aOR 0.60 95% CI 0.42–0.85; p = 0.004). Conclusion: In critically ill old intensive care patients suffering from COVID-19, lactate and its kinetics are valuable tools for outcome prediction. Trial registration number: NCT04321265.