We applied the SPARROW model to estimate phosphorus transport from catchments to stream reaches and subsequent delivery to major receiving water bodies in the Southeastern United States (U.S.). We show that six source variables and five land-to-water transport variables are significant (p<0.05) in explaining 67% of the variability in long-term log-transformed mean annual phosphorus yields. Three land-to-water variables are a subset of landscape characteristics that have been used as transport factors in phosphorus indices developed by state agencies and are identified through experimental research as influencing land-to-water phosphorus transport at field and plot scales. Two land-to-water variables - soil organic matter and soil pH - are associated with phosphorus sorption, a significant finding given that most state-developed phosphorus indices do not explicitly contain variables for sorption processes. Our findings for Southeastern U.S. streams emphasize the importance of accounting for phosphorus present in the soil profile to predict attainable instream water quality. Regional estimates of phosphorus associated with soil-parent rock were highly significant in explaining instream phosphorus yield variability. Model predictions associate 31% of phosphorus delivered to receiving water bodies to geology and the highest total phosphorus yields in the Southeast were catchments with already high background levels that have been impacted by human activity. ?? 2011 American Water Resources Association. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.