The effect of a calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) depletion and repletion strategy was studied in four consecutive feeding phases of 28 days each. In all, 60 castrated male pigs (14±1.6 kg initial BW) received 60% (low (L) diet; depletion) or 100% (control (C) diet; repletion) of their Ca and digestible P requirements according to six feeding sequences (CCCC, CCCL, CLCC, CCLC, LCLC and LLLL; subsequent letters indicate the diet received in phases 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively). Pigs bone mineral content in whole-body (BMCb) and lumbar vertebrae L2 to L4 (BMCv) was measured in every feeding phase by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Growth performance was slightly (<10%) affected by depletion, however, dietary treatments did not affect overall growth. Compared with control pigs, depletion reduced BMCb (34%, 38%, 33% and 22%) and BMCv (46%, 54%, 38% and 26%) in phases 1 to 4, respectively. Depletion increased however digestible P retention efficiency from the second to the fourth phases allowing LLLL pigs to present no differences in BMCb and BMCv gain compared with CCCC pigs in phase 4. Growth performance in repleted compared with control pigs was lower in phase 2, was no different in phase 3 and was lower in CLCC pigs in phase 4. Repletion increased body P and Ca retention efficiency when compared with control pigs (respectively, 8% and 10% for LC v. CC, P<0.01; 8% and 10% for CLC v. CCC, P<0.10; 18% and 25% for CLCC, CCLC, LCLC v. CCCC, P<0.001). Moreover, BMCv gain was higher in CLC pigs (P<0.001) and gains of body P, Ca, BMCb and BMCv in phase 4 were also higher in repleted than in CCCC pigs (respectively, 14%, 20%, 20% and 52%; P⩽0.02). Repletion reduced body P, Ca, BMCb and BMCv masses in phase 2 but no differences were found in phase 4 compared with control pigs. Lumbar vertebrae L2 to L4 bone mineral content was more sensitive to depletion and repletion sequences than BMCb especially in the first phase probably due to a higher proportion of metabolically active trabecular bone in vertebrae than in the whole skeleton. Dietary Ca was, however, oversupply in L compared with C diets (3.1 v. 2.5 Ca:digestible P ratio, respectively) suggesting that P has probably driven the regulations. Phosphorus and Ca depletion and repletion increases dietary P utilization efficiency and can help to reduce dietary P supply, but the underlying mechanisms need elucidation before its practical application.