The middle meningeal artery is typically the third branch of the first part (retromandibular part) of the maxillary artery, one of the two terminal branches of the external carotid artery. After branching off the maxillary artery in the infratemporal fossa, it runs through the foramen spinosum to supply the dura mater and the calvaria. The middle meningeal artery is the largest of the three (paired) arteries that supply the meninges, the others being the anterior meningeal artery and the posterior meningeal artery.
The anterior branch of the middle meningeal artery runs beneath the pterion. It is vulnerable to injury at this point, where the skull is thin. Rupture of the artery may give rise to an epidural hematoma. In the dry cranium, the middle meningeal, which runs within the dura mater surrounding the brain, makes a deep indention in the calvarium.
The middle meningeal artery is intimately associated with the auriculotemporal nerve, which wraps around the artery making the two easily identifiable in the dissection of human cadavers and also easily damaged in surgery.