Several experiments were conducted with tropical tree and liana seedlings in which transpiration ratio and leaf phosphorus to carbon ratio (P:C) were measured. Transpiration ratio was expressed as kg H2O transpired g−1 C incorporated into plant biomass, and leaf P:C as mg P g−1 C. Leaf P:C was positively correlated with transpiration ratio across 19 species for plants grown under similar conditions (R2 = 0.35, P < 0.01, n = 19). For five species in the dataset, multiple treatments were imposed to cause intra-specific variation in transpiration ratio. Within four of these five species, leaf P:C correlated positively with transpiration ratio. The slope and strength of the correlation varied among species. In one experiment, whole-plant P:C was measured in addition to leaf P:C. Patterns of correlation between whole-plant P:C and transpiration ratio were similar to those between leaf P:C and transpiration ratio. Together, these observations suggest that transpiration can influence the rate of P uptake from soil in tropical tree and liana seedlings. We suggest that this occurs through transport of inorganic phosphate and organic P compounds to root surfaces by transpiration-induced mass flow of the soil solution. The positive correlation between leaf P:C and transpiration ratio suggests that leaf P:C could decline in tropical forests as atmospheric CO2 concentration rises, due to decreasing transpiration ratios.