Two cases of progressive, occipital lancinating pain and dysesthesias associated with a sensory deficit of the C2 dermatome are presented. Symptoms were relieved, and C2 sensory function restored by releasing a hypertrophied atlanto-epistrophic ligament entrapping the C2 root and ganglion. The normal anatomy and abnormal surgical findings are described. C2 entrapment by the atlanto-epistrophic ligament is discussed in reference to other C2 lesions causing occipital pain. We conclude that some patients whose progressive occipital pain is accompanied by a C2 sensory deficit are suffering from entrapment of the C2 root and ganglion amenable to surgical decompression.