Superior tarsal muscle

Dr Craig Hacking et al.

The superior tarsal muscle (Muller's muscle or cremaster tarsus) is a small muscle of the superior orbit arising from the undersurface of the levator palpebrae superioris muscle that elevates and retracts the upper eyelid. It is not part of the extra-ocular muscles; it does not insert on the globe and therefore does not produce eye movements. It is composed of smooth muscle fibers which is under sympathetic control.


  • origin: undersurface of the levator palpebrae superioris muscle
  • insertion: upper margin of the superior tarsal plate
  • innervation: sympathetics on the superior branch of the oculomotor nerve (CN III) derived from the internal carotid artery sympathetic plexus
  • action: elevates and retracts the upper eyelid

Clinical significance

  • Horner syndrome, due to injury or pathology of the cervical sympathetic chain, can lead to reduced sympathetic innervation of the muscle and cause ptosis. There are usually other signs of Horner syndrome present to help differentiate other causes of ptosis
Anatomy: Head and neck
Share article

Article information

rID: 68225
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • cremaster tarsus
  • Muller's muscle
  • Muller muscle

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.