The posterior arch forms about two-fifths of the circumference of the ring: it ends behind in the posterior tubercle, which is the rudiment of a spinous process and gives origin to the Recti capitis posteriores minores. The diminutive size of this process prevents any interference with the movements between the atlas and the skull.
The posterior part of the arch presents above and behind a rounded edge for the attachment of the posterior atlantooccipital membrane, while immediately behind each superior articular process is a groove (sulcus arteriæ vertebralis), sometimes converted into a foramen by a delicate bony spiculum which arches backward from the posterior end of the superior articular process. This groove represents the superior vertebral notch, and serves for the transmission of the vertebral artery, which, after ascending through the foramen in the transverse process, winds around the lateral mass in a direction backward and medialward; it also transmits the suboccipital (first spinal) nerve.
On the under surface of the posterior arch, behind the articular facets, are two shallow grooves, the inferior vertebral notches.
The lower border gives attachment to the posterior atlantoaxial ligament, which connects it with the axis.