Phosphorus (P) is translocated from vegetative tissues to developing seeds during senescence in annual crop plants, but the impact of this P mobilisation on photosynthesis and plant performance is poorly understood. This study investigated rice (Oryza sativa L.) flag leaf photosynthesis and P remobilisation in a hydroponic study where P was either supplied until maturity or withdrawn permanently from the nutrient solution at anthesis, 8 days after anthesis (DAA) or 16 DAA. Prior to anthesis, plants received either the minimum level of P in nutrient solution required to achieve maximum grain yield (‘adequate P treatment’), or received luxury levels of P in the nutrient solution (‘luxury P treatment’). Flag leaf photosynthesis was impaired at 16 DAA when P was withdrawn at anthesis or 8 DAA under adequate P supply but only when P was withdrawn at anthesis under luxury P supply. Ultimately, reduced photosynthesis did not translate into grain yield reductions. There was some evidence plants remobilised less essential P pools (e.g. Pi) or replaceable P pools (e.g. phos-pholipid-P) prior to remobilisation of P in pools critical to leaf function such as nucleic acid-P and cytosolic Pi. Competition for P between vegetative tissues and developing grains can impair photosynthesis when P supply is withdrawn during early grain filling. A reduction in the P sink strength of grains by genetic manipulation may enable leaves to sustain high rates of photosynthesis until the later stages of grain filling.