OBJECT: Descriptions of the marginal venous sinus are lacking in the extant medical literature. The aim of this study was to characterize the anatomy of this intracranial venous sinus. METHODS: The authors examined the marginal sinuses in 15 adult cadavers following the injection of latex into the intracranial venous system. The maximal vertical height of the sinuses, which ranged from 7 to 15 mm (mean 10 mm), was located at the lateral aspect of the foramen magnum at or near the region at which the spinal accessory nerve crossed en route to the jugular foramen. In all specimens the sinus tapered as it traveled both anteriorly and posteriorly. Ninety-three percent of the specimens demonstrated significant drainage into the veins of the hypoglossal canal. The hypoglossal nerve rootlets pierced the sinus and its tributaries in 11 (73%) of 15 specimens. The marginal sinus communicated with the basilar venous plexus in 12 (80%) of 15 specimens and with the occipital sinus in all specimens (100%). There was venous communication with the sigmoid sinus in all specimens. The vertebral artery coursed through the marginal sinus as it pierced the posterior atlantooccipital membrane in all left sides and in 87% of the right sides. CONCLUSIONS: These quantitative data will be useful to the neurosurgeon who operates in the region of the marginal sinus.