The ongoing warming in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau leads to changes in ecosystem processes while the responses of soil and vegetation are not well understand. Thus, we used infrared radiators to carry out experimental warming from July 2010 to August 2011 in an alpine meadow on the Plateau (about 4630 m above sea level) to research the responses of environmental factors and vegetation characteristics to short-term warming (1 year). The experimental design was a block design consisting of five replications and included three treatment levels: control, T1 (130 W m-2) and T2 (150 W m-2). The results showed that air temperature at 20 cm height, surface temperature and soil temperature in the 0–100 cm layers increased with warming. The biggest differences of T1 (1.66°C) and T2 (2.34 °C) appeared on the surface and at 20 cm depth, whereas the biggest amplitudes of T1 (27.15%) and T2 (35.81%) all occurred at 100 cm depth. Soil moisture showed different trends with warming in different soil layers. In the 0–40 cm layers, soil moisture decreased with warming. The biggest differences (-2.97% for T1 and -2.73% for T2) and amplitudes (-18.07% for T1 and -16.64% for T2) all appeared at 10 cm depth. In the 60–100 cm layers, soil moisture increased with warming. The biggest differences (2.53% for T1 and 6.45% for T2) and amplitudes (11.39% for T1 and 29.05% for T2) all occurred at 100 cm depth. Relative to control, vegetation height and aboveground biomass increased significantly in T1 and T2 (P <0.05), while vegetation coverage had not significant differences in T1 and T2 (P> 0.05). In T1 and T2, the amplitudes were 30.67% and 30.19% for vegetation height, and 36.22% and 27.87% for vegetation aboveground biomass, and 12.89% and 4.42% for vegetation coverage, respectively. In the path analysis between environment and vegetation properties, vegetation was directly affected by soil moisture at 40 cm and 60 cm depths, whereas indirectly influenced by relative humidity at 20 cm height and soil temperature at 40 cm depth. This might be related to the downward movement of the soil moisture caused by warming.