Precipitation of Ca phosphates plays an important role in controlling P activity and availability in environmental systems. The purpose of this study was to determine inhibitory effects on Ca phosphate precipitation by Mg(2+), SO(4)(2-), CO(3)(2-), humic acid, oxalic acid, biogenic Si, and Si-rich soil clay commonly found in soils, sediments, and waste streams. Precipitation rates were determined by measuring decrease of P concentration in solutions during the first 60 min; and precipitated solid phases identified using X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy. Poorly-crystalline hydroxyapatite (HAP: Ca(5)(PO(4))(3)OH) formed in control solutions over the experiment period of 24 h, following a second-order dependence on P concentration. Humic acid and Mg(2+) significantly inhibited formation of HAP, allowing formation of a more soluble amorphous Ca phosphate phase (ACP), and thus reducing the precipitation rate constants by 94-96%. Inhibition caused by Mg(2+) results from its incorporation into Ca phosphate precipitates, preventing formation of a well-crystalline phase. Humic acid likely suppressed Ca phosphate precipitation by adsorbing onto the newly-formed nuclei. Presence of oxalic acid resulted in almost complete inhibition of HAP precipitation due to preemptive Ca-oxalate formation. Carbonate substituted for phosphate, decreasing the crystallinity of HAP and thus reducing precipitation rate constant by 44%. Sulfate and Si-rich solids had less impact on formation of HAP; while they reduced precipitation in the early stage, they did not differ from the control after 24 h. Results indicate that components (e.g., Mg(2+), humic acid) producing relatively soluble ACP are more likely to reduce P stability and precipitation rate of Ca phosphate in soils and sediments than are components (e.g., SO(4)(2-), Si) that have less effect on the crystallinity.