In this study, the theoretical basis and limitations of magnesium ammonium phosphate (MAP) precipitation are investigated and experimentally tested for leather tanning industry. The MAP precipitation is applied to leather tanning wastewaters for both segregated flows containing high ammonia concentrations and combined flows. Segregated flow treatment on smaller volumes of wastewater provided an ammonia concentration of down to 150 mg l(-1) NH3-N. The resulting ammonia concentration of MAP precipitation on combined wastewater is at the level of domestic wastewater which eliminates the need of further nitrogen removal in the biological treatment and provides an effluent quality acceptable for the public sewer. (C) 1997 IAWQ. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.