To examine the specificity of monoclonal antibody A2B5, four A2B5-reactive gangliosides (designated as G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4) were purified from bonito fish brain. Ganglioside-1, -2, and -3 migrated above GD1b, below GQ1b, and far below GQ1b on thin-layer chromatography. Ganglioside-4 had the slowest chromatographic mobility and migrated below G-3. The structures of these gangliosides were characterized by overlay analysis with glycolipid-specific ligands, product analysis after sialidase or mild acid treatment, and electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). Accordingly, G-1, G-2 and G-3 were identified to be GT3, GQ1c and GP1c, respectively. The ganglioside G-4 was shown to have the following structure: NeuAc-NeuAc-NeuAc-Galbeta1-3Gal NAcbeta1-4(NeuAc-NeuAc-NeuAcalpha2-3)Galbeta1-4Glcbeta1-1'Cer. The antibody A2B5 reacted with these c-series gangliosides, but not with GD3 and other gangliosides and neutral glycosphingolipids. The antigenic epitope for A2B5 was assumed to include the trisialosyl residue connected to the inner galactose of the hemato- or ganglio-type oligosaccharide structure of gangliosides. Phylogenetic analysis of brain gangliosides using the A2B5 preparation demonstrated that c-series gangliosides are enriched in lower animals, especially bony fish of different species. The monoclonal antibody A2B5 would be a useful tool for examining the distribution and function of c-series gangliosides.