The nucleus is located in the paramedian dorsal lower pons in the floor of the fourth ventricle lateral to the medial longitudinal fasciculus. The nucleus forms a longitudinal paramedian column of somatic motor nuclei along with the trochlear, oculomotor and hypoglossal nuclei.
Abducent efferent fibers leave the nucleus ventrally passing through the reticular formation and medial lemniscus, medial to the facial nucleus. The fibers of the facial nerve motor nucleus wrap around the abducent nucleus, creating the facial colliculus.
On the ventral surface of the brainstem the fibers emerge between the lower pons and medullary pyramid.