The lateral circumflex femoral artery arises from the side of the deep femoral artery, which supplies much of the musculature in the front and middle compartments of the thigh. Some of its vessels penetrate through the muscles to the back compartment and contribute to the supply of the hamstrings. The lateral circumflex femoral artery passes behind the sartorius and rectus femoris muscles, where it divides into three branches: the ascending, transverse, and descending branches. The ascending branch passes over to the side of the hip, and joins a network with the end branches of the superior gluteal and deep iliac circumflex arteries. The descending branch courses downward behind the rectus femoris, and one long branch descends as far as the knee, where it joins an aspect of the popliteal artery. A branch of the femoral nerves accompanies it. The transverse branch is the smallest branch, but it is often absent. It winds around the femur and connects a network of vessels and nerves on the back of the thigh. The corresponding veins parallel the paths of the arteries of the same name.