It starts on the A6, which bypasses Rushden to the east, before heading westwards into town and meeting the A5028 (former A6) by the old railway station, now a transport museum.
After multiplexing with the A5028 through town, the A5001 reappears and continues west to the Sanders Lodge Industrial Estate. It used to meet the A45 here but a bypass has now been built and so the A5001 splits to take in both directions of the former A45 to meet the new road. In the westward direction the A45 is met at a GSJ with only west-facing sliproads; a roundabout is met in the eastward direction.
Originally, the A5001 only existed west of Rushden. The access road to the A6 bypass was built along with the bypass itself in the 1990s.