With 19 career medals spanning three Olympics, Phelps moved one ahead of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who got her haul in 1956, 1960 and 1964. And he finally got his first gold of these games, bouncing back from the disappointment of settling for silver when he glided at the end of the 200 butterfly earlier Tuesday.
The United States team of Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, Ricky Berens and Phelps on the anchor leg won in 6 minutes, 59.70 seconds. France took the silver in 7:02.77, while China was third in 7:06.30.
Phelps now has 15 golds, two silvers and two bronzes.