Acid mine drainage streams in the Rocky Mountains typically have few algal species and abundant iron oxide deposits which can sorb phosphate. An instream injection of radiolabeled phosphate (32P0,) into St. Kevin Gulch, an acid mine drainage stream, was used to test the ability of a dominant algal species, Ulothrix sp., to rapidly assimilate phosphate. Approximately 90% of the injected phosphate was removed from the water column in the 175-m stream reach. When shaded stream reaches were exposed to full sunlight after the injection ended, photoreductive dissolution of iron oxide released sorbed 32P, which was then also removed downstream. The removal from the stream was modeled as a first-order process by using a reactive solute transport transient storage model. Concentrations of 32P mass-’ of algae were typically lo-fold greater than concentrations in hydrous iron oxides. During the injection, concentrations of 32P increased in the cellular P pool containing soluble, low-molecular-weight compounds and confirmed direct algal uptake of 32P0, from water. Mass balance calculations indicated that algal uptake and sorption on iron oxides were significant in removing phosphate. We conclude that in stream ecosystems, PO, sorbed by iron oxides can act as a dynamic nutrient reservoir regulated by photoreduction.