The objective of the present study was to examine the effect of the level of phosphorus (P) intake on ruminal P kinetics in sheep. Twelve Santa Inês male sheep (average body weight 36 kg) were fed a basal diet consisting of roughage (coast cross hay), concentrate mixture (cassava meal, soya bean meal and urea) and a mineral premix. The treatments consisted of the basal diet supplemented with 0, 1·5, 3 or 4·5 g/kg dry matter (DM) of mono-ammonium phosphate to provide increasing P levels representing treatments T0, T1, T2 and T3, respectively. The P content of experimental diets was 1·5; 2·0; 2·5 and 3·0 g P/kg DM, and considered highly deficient, deficient, adequate and in excess, respectively, compared with standard recommended allowances. Animals were injected with 32P and thereafter samples of blood were collected over 7 days, while samples of rumen fluid and saliva were collected 4 and 6 days after injection. Phosphorus intake affected P concentration in ruminal fluid, whereas P concentration in saliva was not affected. The values for P turnover time in the rumen were 1·42, 1·23, 1·18 and 1·04 days, whereas values of endogenous P entry into the rumen were 1·05, 1·37, 1·53 and 1·91 g/day for T0, T1, T2 and T3, respectively, both affected by P intake. The specific activity (SA) of P in saliva, rumen and plasma were also all affected by P intake. The relationship between saliva and rumen SA emphasizes that most endogenous P in the rumen came from saliva. The possibility of an extra P source besides saliva contributing to endogenous P in the rumen is discussed. It is concluded from the results that, regardless of P intake, the flow of endogenous P into the rumen contributes to ensure a minimum supply of this essential element, which may be important in matching the requirements of the rumen microbes.