Originating from the posterior part of the medulla oblongata the hypoglossal nerve leaves the cranium through the anterior condyloid foramen and descends between the pneumogastric and spinal accessory nerves on the exterior face of the guttural pouch. Passing over the side of the pharynx and larynx it is continued onwards beneath the mylodiyoid and hyo-glossus brevis muscles, and distributed to all the muscles of the tongue.

Soon after leaving the anterior condyloid foramen the hypoglossal nerve receives a considerable twig from the inferior branch of the first cervical pair, and it is further connected with the superior cervical ganglion on the outer part of the guttural pouch.

It is a motor nerve, and excites contraction of the muscles of the tongue during feeding or whenever they are required to move.