OBJECTIVE: The white matter structure of the anterior temporal lobe and the frontotemporal region is complex and not well appreciated from the available neurosurgical literature. The fiber dissection method is an excellent means of attaining a thorough knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of the white matter tracts. This study was performed to demonstrate the usefulness of the dissection technique in understanding the white matter anatomy and the effects of current surgical approaches on the subcortical structure of the region. METHODS: Seventeen brain specimens obtained at routine autopsy were dissected by use of Klingler's fiber dissection technique after preparation by fixation and freezing. The dissections were performed with an operating microscope and followed a stepwise pattern of progressive white matter dissection. RESULTS: The dissection is described in an orderly fashion showing the white matter tracts of the anterior temporal lobe and the frontotemporal region. An insight is gained into the three-dimensional course of the anterior loop of the optic radiation, the temporal stem, the anterior commissure, and the ansa peduncularis. CONCLUSION: The anterior temporal lobe and the frontotemporal region contain several important white matter tracts that can be uniquely understood by performing a white matter dissection of the region. Surgical procedures on the anterior temporal lobe differ substantially as to their repercussions on the subcortical white matter tract anatomy, as shown by the findings in this study.