The aim of this study was to identify the arterial supply to the thyroid gland and the relationship between the inferior thyroid artery (ITA) and the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) in fetal cadavers using anatomical dissection. The anterior necks of 200 fetuses were dissected. The origins of the superior thyroid artery (STA) and the ITA and location of the ITA in relation to the entrance of the thyroid lobe were examined. The relationship between the ITA and the RLN was determined. The origins of the STA were classified as: external carotid artery, common carotid artery (CCA), and the thyrolingual trunk. The origins of the ITA were the thyrocervical trunk and the CCA. The ITA was absent on the left side in two cases. The relationship of the RLN to the ITA fell into seven different types. Type 1: the RLN lay posterior to the artery; right (42.5%), left (65%). Type 2: the RLN lay anterior to the artery; right (40.5%), left (22.5%). Type 3: the RLN lay parallel to the artery; right (11.5%), left (7%). Type 4: the RLN lay between the two branches of the artery; right (1%), left (3.5%). Type 5: The extralaryngeal branch of the RLN was detected before it crossed the ITA; right (4.5%), left (0%). Type 6: the ITA lay between the two branches of the RLN; right (0%), left (0.5%). Type 7: the branches of the RLN lay among the branches of the ITA; right (0%), left (0.5%). The results from this study would be useful in future thyroid surgeries. (C) 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.