OBJECT: The basal vein of Rosenthal (BV) courses from the premesencephalic cistern, through the ambient cistern, and terminates in the quadrigeminal cistern. The aim of this study was to describe and quantitate the surgical anatomy of this structure and specifically to provide landmarks for identifying this vessel along its course. These data may be of use, for example, to surgeons using subtemporal operative approaches through regions where this vessel is concealed. METHODS: The authors examined 15 latex-injected adult cadaveric brains (30 sides) to delineate the morphological characteristics of the BV. Dissections of the BV were then performed and measurements were made between this structure and the tentorial incisura at the anterior, middle, and posterior borders of the lateral midbrain. All specimens were found to have a left and right BV with varying morphological characteristics. The mean distance between the BV and posterior cerebral artery at the midpoint of the lateral midbrain was 16 mm. The BV was always found superomedial to the posterior cerebral artery along the lateral aspect of the midbrain, and the BV ranged in diameter from 1 to 5 mm. The BV drained into the vein of Galen in all but two specimens. The mean distances from the tentorial edge to the BV at the anterior, middle, and posterior borders of the lateral midbrain were 11, 1 3, and 4 mm, respectively. No statistically significant differences were found when comparing left and right sides or male and female specimens. CONCLUSIONS: The authors hope that these data will help the neurosurgeon operating near the BV to avoid injury to this important structure.