Lithospheric folding is an important mode of basin formation in compressional intraplate settings. Basins formed by lithospheric folding are characterized by distinct features in subsidence history. A comparison with extensional basins, foreland basins, intracratonic basins and pull-apart basins provides criteria for the discrimination between these modes of basin formation. These findings are important in deciphering the feedbacks between tectonics and surface processes. In addition, inferences on accommodation space and thermal regime have important consequences for hydrocarbon maturity. Lithospheric folding is coupled to compressional reactivation of basins and faults, and therefore, strongly affects reservoir characteristics of sedimentary basins. © 2010 The Authors. Basin Research © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers and International Association of Sedimentologists.