Phosphate retention and, later, hyperphosphatemia are key contributors to chronic kidney disease (CKD)-mineral and bone disorder (MBD). Phosphate homeostatic mechanisms maintain normal phosphorus levels until late-stage CKD, because of early increases in parathyroid hormone (PTH) and fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF-23). Increased serum phosphorus, and these other mineral abnormalities, individually and collectively contribute to bone disease, vascular calcification, and cardiovascular disease. Earlier phosphate control may, therefore, help reduce the early clinical consequences of CKD-MBD, and help control hyperphosphatemia and secondary hyperparathyroidism in late-stage CKD. Indeed, it is now widely accepted that achieving normal phosphorus levels is associated with distinct clinical benefits. This therapeutic goal is achievable in CKD stages 3 to 5 but more difficult in dialysis patients. Currently, phosphate control is only initiated when hyperphosphatemia occurs, but a potentially beneficial and simple approach may be to intervene earlier, for example, when tubular phosphate reabsorption is substantially diminished. Early CKD-MBD management includes dietary phosphate restriction, phosphate binder therapy, and vitamin D supplementation. Directly treating phosphorus may be the most beneficial approach because this can reduce serum phosphorus, PTH, and FGF-23. This involves dietary measures, but these are not always sufficient, and it can be more effective to also consider phosphate binder use. Vitamin D sterols can improve vitamin D deficiency and PTH levels but may worsen phosphate retention and increase FGF-23 levels, and thus, may also require concomitant phosphate binder therapy. This article discusses when and how to optimize phosphate control to provide the best clinical outcomes in CKD-MBD patients.