The vascular relationships of the trigeminal nerve root entry zone were examined bilaterally in 20 cadavers of individuals known to be free of facial pain. Fourteen of 40 nerves made contact with an artery, but only four of these showed evidence of compression or distortion of the nerve. In addition, the vascular relationships of 40 trigeminal nerves exposed surgically for trigeminal neuralgia were studied, and 31 nerves showed compression by adjacent arteries. Venous compression was seen in four of the cadaver nerves and in eight nerves from patients with trigeminal neuralgia. These data support the hypothesis that arterial compression of the trigeminal nerve is associated with trigeminal neuralgia.