Overlying water and sediment samples were collected from 11 locations in Ulansuhai Lake in June of 2012 to determine the concentration of dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP) in the interstitial water, overlying water and sediment and to estimate the diffusion flux of DIP at the sediment–water interface. The DIP levels in overlying water were 0.004–0.185 mg/L (average = 0.062 mg/L), while they were 0.05–0.25 mg/L (average = 0.124 mg/L) in the interstitial water in the 0–2 cm surface sediment. Moreover, the annual mean exchange flux of DIP in the sediment was between −0.092 mg/m2·d and 0.053 mg/m2·d, and this occurred via internal source action in most areas. After area weighting, it is estimated that the exchange capacity of DIP at the sediment–water interface of the Ulansuhai Lake is 1.30 t/a. These findings indicate internal loading of phosphorus in sediment of the Ulansuhai Lake; thus, the diffusion of DIP in the interstitial water has effects on the lake, with a degree of influence of 2.7% to 81.5%.

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