Rotational matron of the normal upper cervical spine was analyzed in 20 men using biplanar roentgenograms, a system digitizer, and a personal computer. To detect the bony landmarks of the atlas, the subjects' heads were fixed and their trunks rotated in the reference frame while these biplanar studies were obtained. Coupling motions observed included 10$$ extension at C0–C1, with 11$$ of lateral bending between C1–C2. Almost all (80%) cervical axial rotation took place at C1–C2, whereas only 4$$ of rotation occurred at C0–C1, Furthermore, as C1–C2 axial rotation increased, so did rotation in the opposite direction at C0–C1 while less rotation was noted below C2. The instantaneous axis of rotation was located anterior to the foramen magnum at the C0–C1 level, in the central portion of the dens at C1–C2.