The Kings traded injured wing Jared Aulin to Washington Monday for the 29-year-old Carter, who played in just 19 games for the Capitals after he was traded to them by the New York Rangers in January.
"We're excited to add Anson Carter to our lineup as we approach this critical point of the season," said General Manager Dave Taylor.
Carter's short stint with Washington was his second with the Capitals. He played for them in 1996-97, also for 19 games.
Last season, Carter played for the Rangers and Edmonton Oilers. He also has played for the Boston Bruins.
Aulin, 21, had surgery on his left shoulder and has missed the entire season.
"Our doctors have talked to their doctors quite a bit and assured us this is not a career-threatening injury," said Capitals General Manager George McPhee.