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Herman J. Radtke III

Stream a Body With Trailers in axum 0.6

Hyper is designed to support streaming bodies. The current version of axum, v0.6, supports streaming a response. If we want to include trailers (sometimes called "trailing headers") then we need to implement our own custom body.


  • The custom body implementation only works in axum 0.6, which uses http-body 0.4.4. The http-body crate changed in v1.0.0-rc.2. The concept is the same, but the custom StreamBody type will be different.
  • Trailers are only supported in hyper using HTTP/2. You can monitor for HTTP/1.1 support.

If you want to send trailer headers in HTTP/1.1 or you do not want to implement your own Body, please refer to Stream a Body With Trailers in hyper 1.0 and axum 0.7

Set up

In order to send trailers, we need an axum server that uses HTTP/2. Also, most implementations of HTTP/2 require TLS. Let us start from axum/examples/tls-rustlls. This will give us a working HTTP/2 server that uses self-signed TLS certificates.

We need to make a few changes to the Cargo.toml in order for the example to work:

-name = "example-tls-rustls"
+name = "axum-trailers"
 version = "0.1.0"
 edition = "2021"
 publish = false

-axum = { path = "../../axum" }
+axum = { version = "0.6.20", features = ["http2"] }
 axum-server = { version = "0.3", features = ["tls-rustls"] }

We can now verify our server working:

$ cargo run
   Compiling axum-trailers v0.1.0 (/Users/herman/Code/axum-trailers)
    Finished dev [unoptimized + debuginfo] target(s) in 3.65s
     Running `target/debug/axum-trailers`
$ curl -k https://localhost:3000
Hello, World!%

Streaming Body

Before sending trailers, we need to change our handler function to stream a response. First, add tokio-stream as a dependency:

$ cargo add tokio-stream

We then need to modify our imports:

 use axum::{
+    body::StreamBody,
     http::{StatusCode, Uri},
+    response::IntoResponse,
+    response::Response,
     BoxError, Router,
 use axum_server::tls_rustls::RustlsConfig;
-use std::{net::SocketAddr, path::PathBuf};
+use std::{convert::Infallible, net::SocketAddr, path::PathBuf};
+use tokio::sync::mpsc;
 use tracing_subscriber::{layer::SubscriberExt, util::SubscriberInitExt};

Finally, we can replace the existing handler with one that streams a body:

async fn handler() -> impl IntoResponse {
   let (tx, rx) = mpsc::channel::<Result<String, Infallible>>(2);

   tokio::spawn(async move {

   let stream = tokio_stream::wrappers::ReceiverStream::new(rx);
   let body = StreamBody::new(stream);


We spawn a task that will send hello..., wait 2 seconds and then send world. Hyper knows how to correctly process a stream, but does not know what do with the receiver from the mpsc::channel. We use tokio-stream to convert the receiver into a stream and use that as our response body.

Note: HTTP/2 does not use a Transfer-Encoding header. You can add one, but hyper will properly strip it out.

We can test that our response is now streaming a body using curl.

$ curl -k --no-buffer https://localhost:3000/

With the --no-buffer flag, you should notice a pause between hello... and world.

Sending Trailers

In http-body v0.4.4, the Body trait has a poll_trailers method handles the sending of trailers at the end of the body. In axum v0.6, StreamBody always returns None:

fn poll_trailers(
    self: Pin<&mut Self>,
    _cx: &mut Context<'_>,
) -> Poll<Result<Option<HeaderMap>, Self::Error>> {

Custom StreamBody

We can start from axum's StreamBody implementation and add support for trailers.

Copy the StreamBody implementation from axum to our server:

curl --silent "" --output src/

We need to make some changes to the import statments in src/

  1. Rename crate to axum
  2. Remove use http::HeaderMap as axum re-exports this dependency
  3. Add http::HeaderMap to the existing use axum { ... } import.
-use crate::{
+use axum::{
     body::{self, Bytes, HttpBody},
+    http::HeaderMap,
     response::{IntoResponse, Response},
     BoxError, Error,
     stream::{self, TryStream},
-use http::HeaderMap;
 use pin_project_lite::pin_project;
 use std::{

We then modify the StreamBody struct to include trailers. This will allow us to store the trailers in our response.

     pub struct StreamBody<S> {
         stream: SyncWrapper<S>,
+        trailers: Option<HeaderMap>,

We also need to set trailers to None when creating a new stream:

    pub fn new(stream: S) -> Self
        S: TryStream + Send + 'static,
        S::Ok: Into<Bytes>,
        S::Error: Into<BoxError>,
         Self {
             stream: SyncWrapper::new(stream),
+            trailers: None,

 impl<S> IntoResponse for StreamBody<S>

Add a set_trailers method to StreamBody so we can add trailer headers from our response:

+    pub fn set_trailers(&mut self, headers: HeaderMap) {
+        self.trailers = Some(headers);
+    }

Finally, modify poll_trailers to send any headers we set:

    fn poll_trailers(
        self: Pin<&mut Self>,
        _cx: &mut Context<'_>,
    ) -> Poll<Result<Option<HeaderMap>, Self::Error>> {
-        Poll::Ready(Ok(None)
+        Poll::Ready(Ok(self.project().trailers.take()))

Update Response

Now that we have a StreamBody implementaiton that will send headers, we can update handler in src/ to include trailers.

Update the imports to use the StreamBody we just created:

+mod stream_body;
 use axum::{
-    body::StreamBody,
     http::{StatusCode, Uri},
@@ -20,6 +21,8 @@ use std::{convert::Infallible, net::SocketAddr, path::PathBuf};
 use tokio::sync::mpsc;
 use tracing_subscriber::{layer::SubscriberExt, util::SubscriberInitExt};

+use crate::stream_body::StreamBody;

We modify our response to include a header:

     let stream = tokio_stream::wrappers::ReceiverStream::new(rx);
-    let body = StreamBody::new(stream);
+    let mut body = StreamBody::new(stream);
+    let mut headers = axum::http::HeaderMap::new();
+    headers.insert("chunky-trailer", "foo".parse().unwrap());
+    body.set_trailers(headers);

+        .header("Trailers", "chunky-trailer")

Note: we must include a Trailers header that names the trailer headers we want to send.

We can use curl to verify that our trailer header is sent. Note that we must include the verbose flag, -v, in order to see the headers.

$ curl -v -k --no-buffer https://localhost:3000/
> GET / HTTP/2
> Host: localhost:3000
> user-agent: curl/7.79.1
> accept: */*

< HTTP/2 200
< trailers: chunky-trailer
< date: Thu, 19 Oct 2023 22:28:06 GMT
<< chunky-trailer: foo
* Connection #0 to host localhost left intact

Note: the < chunky-trailer: foo is on the same line as because we did not buffer the body.

You can find the complete source code at