The right colic artery arises either directly from the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) or, more often, a common stem from the SMA that it shares with the ileocolic artery. The SMA is one of three major arteries that supplies blood to the large intestine.

After branching off the SMA, the right colic artery divides at the colon, forming a descending artery (which joins with the ileocolic artery) and an ascending artery (which joins with the middle colic artery). Its descending branch supplies the lower portion of the ascending colon and its ascending branch supplies the upper portion. The ascending colon is the section of the large intestine that travels up along the right side of the body. It removes water, some nutrients, and electrolytes from partially digested food.

The right colic artery, middle colic artery, and ileocolic artery eventually come together in a formation known as the marginal artery of the colon or the marginal artery of Drummond. This artery runs along the interior border of the colon and also includes branches from the left colic artery, which arises from the inferior mesenteric artery.