Look Up Another Term

Definition: SMTP

(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The standard email protocol on the Internet and part of the TCP/IP protocol suite, as defined by IETF RFC 2821. SMTP defines the message format and the message transfer agent (MTA), which stores and forwards the mail. SMTP was originally designed for only plain text (ASCII text), but MIME and other encoding methods enable executable programs and multimedia files to be attached to and transported with the email message.

SMTP servers route SMTP messages throughout the Internet to a mail server that provides a message store for incoming mail. The mail server uses the POP3 or IMAP4 access protocol to communicate with the user's email program. See POP3, IMAP4, MIME and messaging system. See also SNMP.