The hydrolysis of phosphoric monoesters by acid phosphatases is thought to proceed via the formation of a phosphoenzyme intermediate, but no stereochemical evidence exists on this point. We have carried out the transphosphorylation from phenyl (R)-[16O, 17O, 18O] phosphate to (S)-propane-1,2-diol in the presence of homogeneous bovine liver acid phosphatase, and have found that the reaction proceeds with greater 90% overall retention of configuration at phosphorus. This stereochemical course of phospho transfer during the enzyme-catalyzed reaction of the phosphoric monoester is consistent with a double displacement mechanism in which each step proceeds with inversion of the stereochemistry at phosphorus, and is similar to the behavior of the bacterial alkaline phosphatase.