This study aimed at revealing the origin, course and distribution of the hypoglossal nerve in 20 adult male New Zealand rabbits. In all the animals dissected, the hypoglossal nerve arose from the ventrolateral side of the medulla oblongata with two main roots and gave off a descending branch to the ansa cervicalis before reaching the division of the common carotid artery. This branch was not seen on the right side of only one case. At the lateral aspect of the hyoglossus muscle, the nerve then divided into the lateral and medial main branches, sent branches to the styloglossus, hyoglossus, genioglossus and geniohyoideus muscles and terminated in the intrinsic tongue muscles. A communicating branch was observed between the hypoglossal and accessory nerves in the right side of one animal and between the hypoglossal nerve and the ganglion nodosum in the right retropharyngeal area of another animal. An additional branch was observed innervating the stylohyoideus muscle in one animal only. A lateral lingual-hypoglossal communication was also seen between the lateral branch of the hypoglossal nerve and terminal branches of the lingual nerve.