Changes in the gelatinization temperature interval and gelatinization enthalpy with annealing time at 50 degrees C were followed for a number of potato starch samples, with different degrees of phosphorylation, using differential scanning calorimetry. The gelatinization temperature increased with the length of the annealing time up to the maximum time of 1280 min and a clear relation to the degree of phosphorylation was observed. The gelatinization enthalpy changed very slowly during the initial period of annealing, but faster in the later stages of the process. The increase in enthalpy was largest for the samples with the highest degree of phosphorylation. The phosphate level remained almost unaffected during the entire process. Therefore, the effects observed are not caused by hydrolysis of the phosphate esters, bur rather by their reorientation toward positions causing less interference of molecular and crystalline structure of amylopectin helices. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.