Lochte took his fifth gold Sunday with a time of 4 minutes, 7.13 seconds -- a massive four seconds in front of silver medalist and teammate Tyler Clary.
Lochte was already in the lead by the time he surfaced following his initial dive off the starting block. He had a one-second lead after the opening butterfly leg and expanded that to two seconds over the backstroke and breaststroke legs before powering home in the freestyle to win by about two body lengths.
As he exited the pool deck, Lochte tossed his two swim caps into an appreciative crowd at the Oriental Sports Center.
Clary took silver in 4:11.17 and Yuya Horihata of Japan got bronze in 4:11.98.
Lochte won all four of his individual events -- beating Phelps in two of them -- and also broke the only world record of the eight-day meet. He took another gold, plus a bronze, with the U.S. relay teams.
However, Lochte wasn't included on the U.S. squad for the final relay of the meet, the 4x100 medley later.
Phelps was swimming the relay, attempting to add to his haul of three golds, two silvers and a bronze thus far.
Lochte also beat Phelps in two events at last year's U.S.
championships, then won six golds to Phelps' five at the Pan Pacific Championships in 2010 -- prompting Phelps' coach Bob Bowman to acknowledge that Lochte was the best swimmer last year.
Now it's fair to say Lochte has had the edge over Phelps this year, too, setting up an enticing duel at next year's London Olympics.
There was also an American winner in the women's 50 breaststroke, with Jessica Hardy reclaiming the title she relinquished to Russia's Yuliya Efimova in 2009.
Hardy missed the 2009 worlds while serving a one-year doping ban, even though the Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted that she was not at fault for consuming a contaminated dietary supplement.
Hardy won in 30.19, Efimova took the silver and another American, Rebecca Soni, got bronze.
Four-time Olympian Therese Alshammar of Sweden won the women's 50-meter free in 24.14 ahead of two Dutch swimmers -- Ranomi Kromowidjojo clocked 24.27 to take silver and Marleen Veldhuis earned the bronze in 24.49. Defending champion and world record holder Britta Steffen of Germany withdrew earlier in the meet.
More finals were scheduled for later, highlighted by the attempt of China's Sun Yang to break the longest-standing world record in the sport _ Australian great Grant Hackett's 1,500-meter mark from 2001.