Discrepancies abound in the literature regarding the anatomy and incidence of the C1 dorsal roots, ganglia, and rami. The present study was performed to elucidate further the detailed anatomy of these structures and to review their clinical relevance. Thirty-adult cadavers were used for this study. The mean age for this group was 72 years. C1 and C2 spinal nerves were identified in 100% of the specimens examined. In 46.6% of specimens, C1 dorsal rootlets were identified and of these, 28.5% had an associated dorsal root ganglion. In 50% of specimens, the spinal accessory nerve joined with dorsal rootlets of C1. C1 in these cases did not possess a dorsal root ganglion. There were no significant differences between left sides, gender, and age (P > 0.05). Additional knowledge regarding the C1 dorsal roots, ganglia, and rami may be of use to the clinician who treats various pain syndromes including medically and surgically intractable occipital neuralgia. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.