If the <servlet> element has a <load-on-startup> then the servlet is initialized at the time of server startup/(re-)deployment of application. At this time the init() method is called. Other-wise prior to first request is received for this servlet.
Even if <load-on-startup> is not specified in the DD, it depends on the web-container when it wnats to load the servlet class, either when the server is started, at startup , or when the first request comes in. My servlet's init() method is called whne the server starts up even when it does not have any <load-on-startup> associated with it. [ July 12, 2006: Message edited by: Sumita Padiyar ]