Phosphorus (P) is an essential plant nutrient and one of the most limiting in natural habitats as well as in agricultural production world-wide. The control of P acquisition efficiency and its subsequent uptake and translocation in vascular plants is complex. The physiological role of key cellular structures in plant P uptake and underlying molecular mechanisms are discussed in this review, with emphasis on phosphate transport across the cellular membrane at the root and arbuscular-mycorrhizal (AM) interfaces. The tools of molecular genetics have facilitated novel approaches and provided one of the major driving forces in the investigation of the basic transport mechanisms underlying plant P nutrition. Genetic engineering holds the potential to modify the system in a targeted way at the root-soil or AM symbiotic interface. Such approaches should assist in the breeding of crop plants that exhibit improved P acquisition efficiency and thus require lower inputs of P fertilizer for optimal growth. Whether engineering of P transport systems can contribute to enhanced P uptake will be discussed.