Phosphorites from sedimentary sequences ranging in age from Archaen to Recent were analysed for delta/sup 18/O in both the PO/sub 4/ (delta/sup 18/Osub(p)) and CO/sub 3/ (delta/sup 18/Osub(c)) in the apatite lattice. The oxygen isotope record is considerably better preserved in phosphates than in either carbonates or cherts. The use of the Longinelli and Nuti temperature equation yields temperatures for Recent phosphorites that are in good agreement with those measured in the field. The delta/sup 18/Osub(p) values of ancient phosphorites decrease with increasing age. These changes with time are not likely to be due to post-depositional exchange. Changes in delta/sup 18/O values of seawater and variations of temperatures with time can account for the delta/sup 18/Osub(p) time trend, but the latter explanation is preferred. In Ancient phosphorites delta/sup 18/Osub(c) in structurally bound carbonate in apatite is not a reliable geochemical indicator.