Development of a selective adsorbent with an enhanced removal efficiency for phosphate from wastewater is urgently needed. Here, a hybrid adsorbent of nanoscale zirconium molybdate embedded in a macroporous anion exchange resin (ZMAE) is proposed for the selective removal of phosphate. The ZMAE consists of a low agglomeration of zirconium molybdate nanoparticles (ZM NPs) dispersed within the structure of the anion exchange (AE) resin. As major results, the phosphate adsorption capacity of the ZMAE (26.1 mg-P/g) in the presence of excess sulfate (5 mM) is superior to that of the pristine AE resin (1.8 mg-P/g) although their phosphate uptake capacity was similar in the absence of sulfate and these results were supported by the high selectivity coefficient of the ZMAE toward phosphate over sulfate (SPO4/SO4) more than 100 times compared to the pristine AE resin. This superior selective performance of the ZMAE for phosphate in the presence of sulfate ions is well explained by the role of the ZM NPs that contributed to 69% of the phosphate capacity which is based on an observation that the phosphate adsorption capacity of the ZM NPs is not affected by the presence of sulfate. In addition, the behavior of the selective phosphate removal by the ZMAE was well demonstrated by not only in the batch mode experiment with simulated Mekong river water and representative wastewater effluent but also in a column test.