Phosphonate-steel interactions have been industrially significant for decades, but details of the phosphonate-steel interface have not yet been characterized. Self-assembled monolayers of phosphonic acids were formed on stainless steel 316L by room-temperature solution deposition. The acids are covalently bound to the surface as phosphonates in a bidentate manner, as determined by diffuse reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Complete coverage of the surface is confirmed by contact angle measurement and atomic force microscopic imaging. This method of monolayer formation contrasts the requirement for heating and long reaction times found to be necessary to form phosphonate monolayers on other metal oxide substrates, such as titanium and silicon.