Abstract Unilateral dissections were carried out on 19 human cadaver heads to demonstrate the superior alveolar nerves and vessels. The positions of foramina on the infratemporal surface of the maxilla were noted and, after decalcification of the bone, a transillumination technique was used to display the nerves and vessels in situ. Considerable variation was found in the origin, path and branches of anterior superior alveolar nerves. A middle superior alveolar nerve was found in seven dissections. The clinical importance of these findings is discussed in relation to local analgesia and surgery of the maxillary antrum.