I have a wireshark capture that indicating a unicast ARP request from source to destination.

Wireshark screenshot

As per my understanding ARP requests (including gratutious ARP) use broadcast. In what case the unicast ARP request is used ?

  • Can you show the dump of the packet? Could this be a DHCPINFORM packet? – ott-- Jul 21 '12 at 10:44
  • @ott The link (wireshark capture PNG Image) I mentioned above includes the dump of the packet I am talking about – Lunar Mushrooms Jul 21 '12 at 17:55
up vote 10 down vote accepted

See RFC1122, section - ARP Cache Validation:

IMPLEMENTATION: Four mechanisms have been used, sometimes in
combination, to flush out-of-date cache entries.


(2) Unicast Poll -- Actively poll the remote host by periodically sending a point-to-point ARP Request to it, and delete the entry if no ARP Reply is received from N successive polls. Again, the
timeout should be on the order of a minute, and typically N is 2.

Also, arping is using unicast ARP requests to reduce the amount of broadcast traffic.

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