The role of phosphorus cycling in algal metabolism was studied in a shallow lake, Donghu, in Wuhan using the methods of measuring cell quota C, N and P, and calculating nutrients uptake rate by algal photosynthesis. The mean daily phosphorus uptake rate of phytoplankton varied between 0.04-0.11 and 0.027-0.053 g/m2/d in station I and station II respectively. The turnover time of phosphorus in phytoplankton metabolism ranged from 0.75-5.0 days during 1979-1986. The available P was 0.176 (.+-. 0-.156) g/m3 (mean .+-. SD) in 1982 and 0.591 (.+-. 0.24) g/m3 in 1986. The relationship between P/B ratio (Y) and TP (X:mg/l) was described by the following regression equation Y = 1.163 + 0.512 logX (r = 0.731, P < 0.001). The dynamics of algal biomass and algal species succession were monitored as the indicators of environmental enrichment. The small-sized algae have replaced the blue-green algae as the dominant species during 1979-1986. The small-sized algae include Merismopedia glauca, Cryptomonas ovata, Cryptomonas erosa, several species Cyclotella. There has been drastic decrease in algal biomass and an obvious increase in P/B ratio. A nutrient competition hypothesis is proposed to explain the reason of the disappearance of blue-green algae bloom. The drastic change in algal size and the results in high P/B ratio (reaching a maximum mean daily ratio of 1.09 in 1986) may suggest a transition of algal species from K-selection to r-selection in Lake Dunglu.