mysql_pconnect() acts very much like mysql_connect() with two major differences.
First, when connecting, the function would first try to find a (persistent) link that's already open with the same host, username and password. If one is found, an identifier for it will be returned instead of opening a new connection.
Second, the connection to the SQL server will not be closed when the execution of the script ends. Instead, the link will remain open for future use (mysql_close() will not close links established by mysql_pconnect()).
The optional client_flags parameter became available in PHP 4.3.0.
This type of link is therefore called 'persistent'.