Supporting multiple Python versions

PyO3 supports all actively-supported Python 3 and PyPy versions. As much as possible, this is done internally to PyO3 so that your crate's code does not need to adapt to the differences between each version. However, as Python features grow and change between versions, PyO3 cannot a completely identical API for every Python version. This may require you to add conditional compilation to your crate or runtime checks for the Python version.

This section of the guide first introduces the pyo3-build-config crate, which you can use as a build-dependency to add additional #[cfg] flags which allow you to support multiple Python versions at compile-time.

Second, we'll show how to check the Python version at runtime. This can be useful when building for multiple versions with the abi3 feature, where the Python API compiled against is not always the same as the one in use.

Conditional compilation for different Python versions

The pyo3-build-config exposes multiple #[cfg] flags which can be used to conditionally compile code for a given Python version. PyO3 itself depends on this crate, so by using it you can be sure that you are configured correctly for the Python version PyO3 is building against.

This allows us to write code like the following

fn function_only_supported_on_python_3_7_and_up() {}

fn function_only_supported_before_python_3_8() {}

fn function_incompatible_with_abi3_feature() {}

The following sections first show how to add these #[cfg] flags to your build process, and then cover some common patterns flags in a little more detail.

To see a full reference of all the #[cfg] flags provided, see the pyo3-build-cfg docs.

Using pyo3-build-config

You can use the #[cfg] flags in just two steps:

  1. Add pyo3-build-config with the resolve-config feature enabled to your crate's build dependencies in Cargo.toml:

    pyo3-build-config = { version = "0.22.1", features = ["resolve-config"] }
  2. Add a file to your crate with the following contents:

    fn main() {
        // If you have an existing file, just add this line to it.

After these steps you are ready to annotate your code!

Common usages of pyo3-build-cfg flags

The #[cfg] flags added by pyo3-build-cfg can be combined with all of Rust's logic in the #[cfg] attribute to create very precise conditional code generation. The following are some common patterns implemented using these flags:


This #[cfg] marks code that will only be present on Python 3.7 and upwards. There are similar options Py_3_8, Py_3_9, Py_3_10 and so on for each minor version.


This #[cfg] marks code that will only be present on Python versions before (but not including) Python 3.7.


This #[cfg] marks code that is only available when building for the unlimited Python API (i.e. PyO3's abi3 feature is not enabled). This might be useful if you want to ship your extension module as an abi3 wheel and also allow users to compile it from source to make use of optimizations only possible with the unlimited API.

#[cfg(any(Py_3_9, not(Py_LIMITED_API)))]

This #[cfg] marks code which is available when running Python 3.9 or newer, or when using the unlimited API with an older Python version. Patterns like this are commonly seen on Python APIs which were added to the limited Python API in a specific minor version.


This #[cfg] marks code which is running on PyPy.

Checking the Python version at runtime

When building with PyO3's abi3 feature, your extension module will be compiled against a specific minimum version of Python, but may be running on newer Python versions.

For example with PyO3's abi3-py38 feature, your extension will be compiled as if it were for Python 3.8. If you were using pyo3-build-config, #[cfg(Py_3_8)] would be present. Your user could freely install and run your abi3 extension on Python 3.9.

There's no way to detect your user doing that at compile time, so instead you need to fall back to runtime checks.

PyO3 provides the APIs Python::version() and Python::version_info() to query the running Python version. This allows you to do the following, for example:

use pyo3::Python;

Python::with_gil(|py| {
    // PyO3 supports Python 3.7 and up.
    assert!(py.version_info() >= (3, 7));
    assert!(py.version_info() >= (3, 7, 0));