An s-arc in a graph is a vertex sequence (α0,α1,…,αs) such that
{αi−1,αi} ∈ EΓ for 1 [les ] i [les ] s and αi−1 ≠ αi+1 for 1 [les ] i [les ] s − 1. This paper gives a characterization of a class of s-transitive graphs; that is, graphs for which the automorphism group is transitive on s-arcs but not on (s + 1)-arcs.
It is proved that if Γ is a finite connected s-transitive graph (where s [ges ] 2) of order
a p-power with p prime, then s = 2 or 3; further, either s = 3 and Γ is a normal
cover of the complete bipartite graph K2m,2m, or s = 2 and Γ is a normal cover of one of the following 2-transitive graphs: Kpm+1
(the complete graph of order pm+1), K2m,2m − 2mK2 (the complete bipartite graph of order
2m+1 minus a 1-factor), a primitive affine graph, or a biprimitive affine graph. (Finite primitive and biprimitive affine 2-arc transitive graphs were classified by Ivanov and Praeger in 1993.)