You misunderstand SQL. When a query is issued, results applicable at the time of the query are returned to the application (i.e. PHP). There is no further reference to the database required. Thus, all of the pg_fetch_* functions are acting on an internal data storage, NOT the database itself. This is because SQL does not have a concept of sets, or of state (except in limited circumstances provided by transactions). However, if you use a cursor instead, fetching only one record at a time, you may get an error if you delete the table. If you don't, it is an issue with Postgres, not PHP.