Treatment of [IrCl3(tht)3], where tht = tetrahydrothiophene, with two equiv. of phenyl diphenylphosphinite (pdpitH) gave [Ir(pdpitH)(pdpit)(tht)Cl2] (1), which on further reaction with 3-t-butyl-5-(2-pyridyl)-1,2,4-triazole (bptzH) and NaOAc using a one-pot reaction afforded [Ir(pdpit)2(bptz)] (2). In sharp contrast, the reaction of [IrCl3(tht)3], pdpitH, and bptzH in the presence of a stronger base, Na2CO3, afforded a phenyl phenylphosphonite (pppo)-containing Ir(III) complex [Ir(pdpit)(pppo)(bptz)] (3) that reveals a strong PO-H-N inter-ligand hydrogen bond (H-bond), as evidenced by the single crystal X-ray structural analysis. For confirmation, addition of diazomethane to a diethylether solution of 3 led to the isolation of two methylated Ir(III) isomeric complexes, i.e. [Ir(pdpit)(pppoMe)(bptz)] (4) and [Ir(pdpit)(pppo)(bptzMe)] (5), possessing either a PO-Me or N-Me bonding fragment, respectively. The absorption spectrum of 3 in CH2Cl2 resembles that of 4, implying the dominant PO-H character in solution. Despite the prevailing PO-H character both in the solid crystal and in solution, its corresponding emission resembles that of 5, leading us to propose a mechanism incorporating the excited-state inter-ligand proton transfer (ESILPT) from PO-H to N-H isomeric form via the pre-existing PO···H···N hydrogen bond. The thermodynamics of proton transfer tautomerism are discussed on the basis of absorption/emission spectroscopy in combination with computational approaches; additional support is given by the relationship between emission pattern versus the position of protons and methyl substituents. The results demonstrate for the first time a paradigm of excited-state proton transfer for the transition metal complexes in the triplet manifold.