Lechwe stand 90 to 100 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh from 70 to 120 kilograms. They are golden brown with a white belly. Males are darker in colour, but general hue varies depending on subspecies. The long spiral structured horns are vaguely lyre-shaped, they are found only in males. The hind legs are somewhat longer in proportion than in other antelopes, to ease long-distance running in marshy soil.
Lechwe are found in marshy areas where they eat aquatic plants. They use the knee-deep water as protection from predators. Their legs are covered in a water repelling substance allowing them to run quite fast in knee-deep water.
Lechwe are diurnal. They gather in herds which can include many thousands of individuals. Herds are usually all of one sex but during mating season they mix.
Traditionally, four subspecies of the Lechwe have been recognized. Additionally, the Upemba Lechwe, which only was described in 2005, is treated as a subspecies of the Lechwe by some authorities.