The alkaline phosphatase (AP) characteristics of three algal bloom species in the coastal waters of China [Prorocentrum donghaiense D. Lu, Alexandrium catenella (Whedon et Kof.) Balech, and Skeletonema costatum (Grev.) Cleve] were analyzed in a laboratory batch culture experiment using bulk assay and the single-cell enzyme-labeled fluorescence (ELF) method. Results showed that the AP of these three test species shared some common characteristics: AP was inducible in all three species and was expressed by algae under phosphorus (P)–stress conditions; no constitutive AP enzyme was detected in the three test species. Once AP was produced, all three test species gradually released the enzymes into the water, and the algae would reinduce AP production. There were also different specific AP characteristics among the three test species under severe P-stressed conditions. In P. donghaiense, AP covered most of the cell, and the AP production sites were mainly on the cell surface, although some could be observed inside cells. AP also covered the whole cell of A. catenella, but the AP sites were mainly inside the cell with only some on the cell surface. Only one or two AP sites could be detected in S. costatum, and they were all on the cell surface.