I am trying to use web3 or JSON-RPC to get a list of pending transactions.

The web3 API docs say that a call to web3.eth.getBlock('pending') will return a structure showing the block number and hash to be null. The answer to this question agrees and says that block.transactions will have pending transactions. But I see non-null values for the number and hash fields that match the latest block and a list of transactions that were included in that block. In fact, web3.eth.getBlock('pending') and web3.eth.getBlock('latest') return the same result. For example, when running a local parity node (Parity/v1.4.7-beta-f2058bd-20161227):

> let Web3 = require('web3');
> let web3 = new Web3(new Web3.providers.HttpProvider("http://localhost:8545"));
> blockL = web3.eth.getBlock('latest');
> blockP = web3.eth.getBlock('pending');
> [blockL.number, blockL.hash]
[ 2971275, '0x2187511e60d49a5ed081ccc31ee4f76365727254e9001f4b563c47cee457ed3f' ]
> [blockP.number, blockP.hash]
[ 2971275, '0x2187511e60d49a5ed081ccc31ee4f76365727254e9001f4b563c47cee457ed3f' ]

I tried making the JSON-RPC call directly and also got the latest block, not information about the pending one:

$ curl -s -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d '{"jsonrpc":"2.0","method":"eth_getBlockByNumber","params":["pending",false],"id":0}' localhost:8545
  { "result" : {
       ... ,
       "number" : "0x2d4c56", 
       "hash" : "0xb0d47255dbeae836384321b1141ae221254fa7ee4ded07f3d49afb875f05a44e"
       ... }

I also tried using an Infura RPC node and got similar results.

Do I misunderstand what pending is supposed to mean? Is there another way I should use web3 or JSON-RPC to get the list of pending transactions?

(When I use web3.eth.filter('pending') I do see pending transactions as they arrive at my node, but that is different from asking for the current pending set.)

3 Answers 3


This answer suggests to me that web3.eth.getBlock('pending') is only relevant if you are mining. Are you?

If not, then yes.. returning the currently mined block seems to be expected behaviour.

  • No, I was not mining. I saw that answer, but as I reread it now it seems specific to the geth built-in console, not the web3/RPC interface, as it refers to non-web3 accessors such as eth.pendingTransactions. The web3 and JSON-RPC docs do not suggest local mining is required to see pending transactions, and I do see them with web3.eth.filter('pending'). My motivation is to monitor the lifecycle of transactions created by a Dapp. I'd like to compare the list of transactions I have attempted to send with those that are currently pending or mined.
    – pyggie
    Jan 12, 2017 at 15:59
  • This answer by Péter Szilágyi suggests pending is useful to a UI that wants to show the progress of a transaction. I guess I can always call web3.eth.getTransaction() on each of the transactions of interest. If it is pending, the .blockNumber will be null.
    – pyggie
    Jan 12, 2017 at 16:22

Your Parity node will return different pending block only when one of the mining or sealing(--force-sealing) modes turned on. This forces node to build pending blocks and respect em on API calls.


An answer to this question in 2023:

This is not correct. Seems like a bug in Parity. Now all clients return different information for the "pending" and "latest" blocks.

  • "latest" - for the latest mined block
  • "pending" - for the pending state/transactions which is likely to be mined in the next block.

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