In the geometry of plane curves, a **vertex** is a point of where the first derivative of curvature is zero.^{[1]} This is typically a local maximum or minimum of curvature,^{[2]} and some authors define a vertex to be more specifically a local extremum of curvature.^{[3]} However, other special cases may occur, for instance when the second derivative is also zero, or when the curvature is constant. For space curves, on the other hand, a **vertex** is a point where the torsion vanishes.

A hyperbola has two vertices, one on each branch; they are the closest of any two points lying on opposite branches of the hyperbola, and they lie on the principal axis. On a parabola, the sole vertex lies on the axis of symmetry and in a quadratic of the form:

it can be found by completing the square or by differentiation.^{[2]} On an ellipse, two of the four vertices lie on the major axis and two lie on the minor axis.^{[4]}

For a circle, which has constant curvature, every point is a vertex.

Vertices are points where the curve has 4-point contact with the osculating circle at that point.^{[5]}^{[6]} In contrast, generic points on a curve typically only have 3-point contact with their osculating circle. The evolute of a curve will generically have a cusp when the curve has a vertex;^{[6]} other, more degenerate and non-stable singularities may occur at higher-order vertices, at which the osculating circle has contact of higher order than four.^{[5]} Although a single generic curve will not have any higher-order vertices, they will generically occur within a one-parameter family of curves, at the curve in the family for which two ordinary vertices coalesce to form a higher vertex and then annihilate.

The symmetry set of a curve has endpoints at the cusps corresponding to the vertices, and the medial axis, a subset of the symmetry set, also has its endpoints in the cusps.

According to the classical four-vertex theorem, every simple closed planar smooth curve must have at least four vertices.^{[7]} A more general fact is that every simple closed space curve which lies on the boundary of a convex body, or even bounds a locally convex disk, must have four vertices.^{[8]} Every curve of constant width must have at least six vertices.^{[9]}

If a planar curve is bilaterally symmetric, it will have a vertex at the point or points where the axis of symmetry crosses the curve. Thus, the notion of a vertex for a curve is closely related to that of an optical vertex, the point where an optical axis crosses a lens surface.