Rather than executing a whole query at a time, it is possible to set up a cursor that encapsulates the query, and then read the query result set one row at a time. This allows the creation of SPL program logic that retrieves a row from the result set, does some processing on the data in that row, and then retrieves the next row and repeats the process.

Cursors are most often used in the context of a FOR or WHILE loop. A conditional test should be included in the SPL logic that detects when the end of the result set has been reached so the program can exit the loop.