Elevation models produced from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data will be the most comprehensive, consistently processed, highest resolution topographic dataset ever produced for the Earth's land surface. Many applications that currently use elevation data will benefit from the increased availability of data with higher accuracy, quality, and resolution, especially in poorly mapped areas of the globe. SRTM data will be produced as seamless data, thereby avoiding many of the problems inherent in existing multi-source topographic databases. Serving as precursors to SRTM datasets, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has produced and is distributing seamless elevation datasets that facilitate scientific use of elevation data over large areas. GTOPO30 is a global elevation model with a 30 arc-second resolution (approximately 1-kilometer). The National Elevation Dataset (NED) covers the United States at a resolution of 1 arc-second (approximately 30-meters). Due to their seamless format and broad area coverage, both GTOPO30 and NED represent an advance in the usability of elevation data, but each still includes artifacts from the highly variable source data used to produce them. The consistent source data and processing approach for SRTM data will result in elevation products that will be a significant addition to the current availability of seamless datasets, specifically for many areas outside the U.S. One application that demonstrates some advantages that may be realized with SRTM data is delineation of land surface drainage features (watersheds and stream channels). Seamless distribution of elevation data in which a user interactively specifies the area of interest and order parameters via a map server is already being successfully demonstrated with existing USGS datasets. Such an approach for distributing SRTM data is ideal for a dataset that undoubtedly will be of very high interest to the spatial data user community.