The horizontal portion (pars horizontalis; third or preaortic or transverse portion) is from 5 to 7.5 cm. long.
It begins at the right side of the upper border of the fourth lumbar vertebra and passes from right to left, with a slight inclination upward, in front of the great vessels and crura of the diaphragm, and ends in the ascending portion in front of the abdominal aorta.
It is crossed by the superior mesenteric vessels and the mesentery. Its front surface is covered by peritoneum, except near the middle line, where it is crossed by the superior mesenteric vessels. Its posterior surface is uncovered by peritoneum, except toward its left extremity, where the posterior layer of the mesentery may sometimes be found covering it to a variable extent. This surface rests upon the right crus of the diaphragm, the inferior vena cava, and the aorta. The upper surface is in relation with the head of the pancreas.