The A531 starts in Madeley Heath next to Madeley War Memorial, at a TOTSO of the A525. This point is just east of the M6 and the A531 passes under the motorway shortly into its journey. This is a pleasant, wooded area of north-west Staffordshire where many of the homes are owned by people connected with Keele University. Soon, the remains of Heighley Castle are seen in the wood to the north.
The road goes through the connected villages of Wrinehill (the road here used to form the boundary between Staffordshire and Cheshire, although both sides are now in Staffordshire) and Betley before crossing into Cheshire at Balterley Heath, at the junction with the B5500, next to the prominent Broughton Arms. The B5500 is the ex-A52; the A531 used to end here at a TOTSO of the A52, but with road renumbering in the area, the A531 has now been extended twice: first along the former A52 past the Wytchwood Park estate to what was the A500 at Weston Hall; and later, when the A500 Shavington bypass was built, up the ex-A500 cutting to the roundabout at Meremoor Moss where it now ends.