The parotid glands are paired major salivary glands and are located in the preauricular region. Parotidectomy is a surgical procedure that entails removal of all or a portion of the parotid gland. The most common indications for this operative procedure are a neoplasm of the parotid gland or metastases to parotid lymph nodes. An intimate knowledge of the anatomy of the parotid gland and related structures is necessary for the performance of safe and successful parotid surgery. This report will discuss the anatomy of the parotid gland as it pertains to parotid surgery and the avoidance of complications related to this surgery. Clin. Anat. 25:12–18, 2012. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.