The transport layer is concerned with efficient and reliable transportation of the data packets from one network to another. In most cases, a document, e-mail message or other piece of information is not sent as one unit. Instead, it is broken into small data packets, each with header information that identifies its correct sequence and document.
When the data packets are sent over a network, they may or may not take the same route – it doesn’t matter. At the receiving end, the data packets are re-assembled into the proper order. After all packets are received, a message goes back to the originating network. If a packet does not arrive, a message to “re-send” is sent back to the originating network.
TCP, paired with IP, is by far the most popular protocol at the transport level. If the IPX protocol is used at the network layer (on networks such as Novell or Microsoft), then it is paired with SPX at the transport layer.