The phosphatonin, secreted frizzled-related protein-4 (sFRP-4), induces phosphaturia and inhibits 25-hydroxyvitamin D 1alpha-hydroxylase activity normally induced in response to hypophosphatemia. To determine the mechanism by which sFRP-4 alters renal phosphate (P(i)) transport, we examined the effect of sFRP-4 on renal brush border membrane (BBMV) Na(+)-dependent P(i) uptake, and the abundance and localization of the major Na(+)-P(i)-IIa co-transporter in proximal tubules and opossum kidney (OK) cells. Infusion of sFRP-4 increased renal fractional excretion of P(i) and decreased renal beta-catenin concentrations. The increase in renal P(i) excretion with sFRP-4 infusion was associated with a 21.9 +/- 3.4% decrease in BBMV Na(+)-dependent P(i) uptake (P < 0.001) compared with a 39.5 +/- 2.1% inhibition of Na(+)-dependent P(i) transport in renal BBMV induced by PTH (P < 0.001). sFRP-4 infusion was associated with a 30.7 +/- 4.8% decrease in Na(+)-P(i)-IIa co-transporter protein abundance (P < 0.01) assessed by immunoblotting methods compared to a 45.4 +/- 8.8% decrease induced by PTH (P < 0.001). In OK cells, sFRP-4 reduced surface expression of a heterologous Na(+)-P(i)-IIa co-transporter. We conclude that sFRP-4 increases renal P(i) excretion by reducing Na(+)-P(i)-IIa transporter abundance in the brush border of the proximal tubule through enhanced internalization of the protein.