Résumé : In primigravid rat females at the 12th day or later stages of gestation one foetus is surgically removed and the amniotic sac allowed to retract freely around the remaining placenta in situ. One hour to 10 days after foetectomy [32P] ortho-phosphate is injected intraperitoneally. The post-foetectomy placenta and matched normal placenta and foetus in the controlateral horn are taken after labelling periods of one or three hours and analysed for calcium, inorganic phosphate, organic-bound acid-soluble and organic-bound acid-insoluble phosphates in their [31P] and [32P] forms. The acutely foetectomized placenta-up to 24 hours after surgery-may serve as an appropriate model of the physiologically functioning syncytiotrophoblast: it is indeed noteworthy that organic-bound phosphate placental concentrations and labelling are little affected in the early post-foetectomy stages. On the other hand the placental inorganic phosphate concentration and labelling are profoundly affected by foetectomy. A surplus radioactive incorporation in the Pi fraction is observed which is strongly related to the weight of the control foetus and may represent up to twelve times the label incorporation in the control placenta; it decreases as the time interval since foetectomy lengthens. A cumulative increase in Pi concentration is observed which is strongly related to calcium concentration and may reach twenty-five times the maternal plasma Pi concentration. The presence of two independent pools of Pi is suggested: one geared to the metabolic needs of the placenta itself, the other representing the Pi normally transported to the foetus under metabolic control by the latter. The possibility of an electroneutral PO42-/Ca2+ co-transport is evoked. © 1986 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.