We investigate the issue of efficient data organization and representation of the curved wavelet coefficients [curved wavelet transform (WT)]. We present an adaptive zero-tree structure that exploits the cross-subband similarity of the curved wavelet transform. In the embedded zero-tree wavelet (EZW) and the set partitioning in hierarchical trees (SPIHT), the parent-child relationship is defined in such a way that a parent has four children, restricted to a square of 2×2 pixels, the parent-child relationship in the adaptive zero-tree structure varies according to the curves along which the curved WT is performed. Five child patterns were determined based on different combinations of curve orientation. A new image coder was then developed based on this adaptive zero-tree structure and the set-partitioning technique. Experimental results using synthetic and natural images showed the effectiveness of the proposed adaptive zero-tree structure for encoding of the curved wavelet coefficients. The coding gain of the proposed coder can be up to 1.2 dB in terms of peak SNR (PSNR) compared to the SPIHT coder. Subjective evaluation shows that the proposed coder preserves lines and edges better than the SPIHT coder.