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as of mysql 4 you can send BEGIN, COMMIT and ROLLBACK statements to mysql through php.
if you don't have mysql 4 i suppose you could nest if/else statements in order to catch failures, although i think that could get a bit convoluted.
but i'm not sure what you mean about php itself having transactions?
In PHP, it depends on the database system. With Postgres, for example, it's as simple as doing:
Did you want something other than this?