A *Jordan curve *or a *simple closed curve *in the plane is the image of an injective continuous map of a circle into the plane, . A *Jordan arc* in the plane is the image of an injective continuous map of a closed interval into the plane.

With these definitions, the Jordan curve theorem can be stated as follow:

Let be a Jordan curve in the plane . Then its complement, , consists of exactly two connected components. One of these components is bounded (the interior) and the other is unbounded (the exterior), and the curve is the boundary of each component.

Furthermore, the complement of a Jordan arc in the plane is connected.

The Schoenflies theorem is a sharpening of the Jordan curve theorem.

If is a simple closed curve, then there is a homeomorphism such that is the unit circle in the plane.

If the curve is smooth then the homeomorphsim can be chosen to be a diffeomorphism. Such a theorem is valid only in two dimension. In three dimensions there are counterexamples such as Alexander’s horned sphere. Although they separate space into two regions, those regions are so twisted and knotted that they are not homeormorphic to the inside and outside of a normal sphere.