We examined the effects of drying on sediment–P interactions for sediments from a shallow wetland ca. 6000 years old. Sediments from this wetland would have been subjected to numerous drying and wetting episodes during the life of the wetland. The factors affecting potential orthophosphate release were compared in surface sediments that had previously been desiccated for 3 months, surface sediments that had remained inundated and wet sediment 25–30 cm below the surface. All sediments released small amounts of orthophosphate once subjected to anaerobic conditions. Sulfate alone stimulated phosphate release from the surface sediment, irrespective of the previous hydrological status, whereas orthophosphate release from deep sediments was co-limited by carbon and sulfate. Decreases in soluble Fe (II) were measured concurrently with sulfate-stimulated P release, which is consistent with formation of iron sulfides. Similar numbers of culturable sulfate-reducing bacteria were obtained from the wet and dry sediments, their tolerance to desiccation explaining why release could occur after extensive drying of the sediment. Phosphate adsorption isotherms of the sediments showed that sediments from all sites had a relatively low affinity for ortho-phosphate. The adsorption data showed reasonable fit to the Freundlich adsorption isotherm. No difference in the maximum amount of ortho-phosphate uptake was observed if the sediment isotherm experiments were done under an inert atmosphere or, following exposure to air, suggesting that even anoxic sediments were not highly reduced. However, significant variations in the value of the Freundlich constants were observed. The results presented in this study are consistent with the hypothesis that repeated wetting/drying cycles select for bacteria that are tolerant to periods of desiccation and/or oxidation. Furthermore, repeated wetting and drying cycles may result in changes to sediment mineralogy.