We present the software library STXXL that is an implementation of the C++ standard template library (STL) for processing huge data sets that can fit only on hard disks. It supports parallel disks, overlapping between disk I/O and computation and it is the first I/O-efficient algorithm library that supports the pipelining technique that can save more than half of the I/Os. STXXL has been applied both in academic and industrial environments for a range of problems including text processing, graph algorithms, computational geometry, Gaussian elimination, visualization, and analysis of microscopic images, differential cryptographic analysis, etc. The performance of STXXL and its applications are evaluated on synthetic and real-world inputs. We present the design of the library, how its performance features are supported, and demonstrate how the library integrates with STL. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.