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In this paper, we propose an efficient and low complexity image coding algorithm based on the lifting wavelet transform and listless modified SPIHT (LWT-LMSPIHT). LWT-LMSPIHT jointly considers the advantages of progressive transmission and spatial scalability that were not fully provided by the SPIHT algorithm, thus it outperforms the SPIHT at low bit rates coding. The coding efficiency of LWT-LMSPIHT comes from three aspects. The lifting scheme lowers the number of arithmetic operations of the wavelet transform. Moreover, a significance reordering of the modified SPIHT ensures that it codes more significant information earlier in the bit stream belonging to the lower frequency bands than SPIHT to better exploit the energy compaction of the wavelet coefficients. Finally, a listless structure further reduces the amount of memory and improves the speed of compression by more than 47% for a 512 times 512 image, as compared with the SPIHT algorithm.