Accurately predicting parturition in cows can be difficult because of the variability in gestation length and uncertainty of the time of parturition. The goal of the present study was to determine the electrolyte concentrations of prepartum mammary secretions of gravid cows and to investigate retrospectively the possible predictive relationships between these concentrations and the time of parturition. Twenty-three cows were sampled once daily for 3 to 12 d before they calved. The concentrations of calcium, inorganic phosphorus, chloride, magnesium, sodium, and potassium were determined by photometric methods. In addition, the concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and inorganic phosphorus were determined using rapid test kits. The correlation between the photometrically measured electrolyte concentrations and the time of parturition was highest for inorganic phosphorus (r = 0.74). The inorganic phosphorus concentration was 11.8 to 26.5 mmol/L in cows that calved within 24 h of sample collection. When 11.8 mmol/L was used as a cutoff concentration for inorganic phosphorus, 21.7, 47.8, and 87.0% of cows calved within 24, 48, and 72 h, respectively. Within 12 d prepartum, the time of parturition can be estimated, with an error of +/- 32.4 h, by using the results of simultaneous determination of inorganic phosphorus and sodium concentrations in mammary secretions and a formula derived from a multiple regression analysis. The results of a phosphate field test positively and significantly correlated with those of the photometric analysis (r = 0.69) and the time of parturition (r = 0.41).