Estrogen treatment causes significant hypophosphatemia in patients. To determine the mechanisms responsible for this effect, we injected ovariectomized rats with either 17beta-estradiol or vehicle for three days. Significant renal phosphate wasting and hypophosphatemia occurred in estrogen-treated rats despite a decrease in their food intake. The mRNA and protein levels of the renal proximal tubule sodium phosphate cotransporter (NaPi-IIa) were significantly decreased in estradiol-treated ad-libitum or pair-fed groups. Estrogen did not affect NaPi-III or NaPi-IIc expression. In ovariectomized and parathyroidectomized rats, 17beta-estradiol caused a significant decrease in NaPi-IIa mRNA and protein expression compared to vehicle. Estrogen receptor alpha isoform blocker significantly blunted the anorexic effect of 17beta-estradiol but did not affect the downregulation of NaPi-IIa. Our studies show that renal phosphate wasting and hypophosphatemia induced by estrogen are secondary to downregulation of NaPi-IIa in the proximal tubule. These effects are independent of food intake or parathyroid hormone levels and likely not mediated through the activation of estrogen receptor alpha subtype.