Explanation of SB37 Abend and Why it Happens

Encountering an SB37 Abend can be a perplexing experience for both seasoned mainframe professionals and students. The SB37 Abend is a common error in z/OS, the operating system for IBM Mainframes, and it often leaves us scratching our heads. In this tutorial, we will explore what an SB37 Abend is, why it happens, and how to deal with it effectively. We will break down this error step by step and provide examples to help you understand it better.

Understanding SB37 Abend

The term “Abend” is short for “abnormal end,” which essentially means that a program or job was not completed successfully. The SB37 Abend, in particular, is associated with issues related to data sets and file handling. Here’s what you need to know:

An SB37 Abend occurs when a program running on the mainframe attempts to access a data set or file that does not exist or is outside the allowable space limits. When this happens, the system raises an SB37 Abend, signalling the abnormal termination of the job or program.

Common Causes of SB37 Abend

Now, let’s delve into the reasons why an SB37 Abend can occur:

Insufficient Space Allocation

One of the most common causes of an SB37 Abend is when the data set you’re trying to access does not have enough space allocated for the operation. This can happen if the file is smaller than expected or if the allocated space has already been exhausted.


// SPACE=(CYL,(1,1))

In the above JCL, we’re allocating just one cylinder of space for the data set MY.FILE.DATA. If this space is not enough, it can lead to an SB37 Abend.

Non-existent data set

If your program or job attempts to access a data set that does not exist, it will result in an SB37 Abend. Double-check the data set name, and ensure that it’s correctly spelled and cataloged.



Unexpected Data Growth

If the actual data generated by the job exceeds the anticipated volume, it may fill up the allocated space, triggering the abend.

Inadequate Secondary Space

If secondary space is specified, but it is insufficient to accommodate the overflow data, the job may still encounter SB37 Abend.

Full Disk Volume

In extreme cases, if the entire disk volume is filled up, any attempt to write data, regardless of space allocations, will result in an SB37 Abend.

Section 3: Dealing with SB37 Abend

When faced with an SB37 Abend, it’s essential to diagnose and resolve the issue. Here are some tips:

  • Check your JCL and verify that the data set allocations are correct. Ensure that the data set exists and has enough space allocated.
  • If the problem is insufficient space allocation, modify the SPACE parameter in the JCL to provide more space for the data set.
  • Ensure that the data set you are trying to access exists if it doesn’t, create it or correct the data set name.
  • Monitoring Data Growth: Monitor the growth of data during job execution. This allows for timely intervention if the data volume is approaching the allocated space limits.
  • Adequate Secondary Space: If data growth is unpredictable, consider specifying generous secondary space allocations to handle unexpected data surges.
  • Disk Space Management: Regularly monitor disk space usage and implement strategies to reclaim unused space or expand storage capacity as needed.
  • Job Control Language (JCL) Optimization: Review JCL statements to ensure they are optimized for efficient space usage. For instance, consider using SPACE parameters effectively and avoiding unnecessary data retention.


In this tutorial, we’ve demystified the SB37 Abend, explained its causes, and provided tips for resolving it. Understanding this error and dealing with it is essential for successful mainframe operation. Keep practising, and you’ll learn to handle SB37 Abends and other common mainframe challenges.

IBM reference

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