The heterogeneous asparagine-linked sugar chains of bovine and human immunoglobulins G were separated into 12 components by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography, and their structures were determined by 1H NMR spectroscopy. Both immunoglobulin (Ig) G sources contained eight non-bisected biantennary complexes and four bisected biantennary complexes. In the non-bisected sugar chains of bovine IgG, galactosylation of the Man alpha 1-3 branch predominated over that of the Man alpha 1-6, whereas in the bisected complexes galactosylation of the Man alpha 1-6 branch predominated. This difference can be explained by the substrate specificities of the galactosyl-transferases and of the N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase III involved in their synthesis. The sugar chains of human IgG1 differs in the distribution of its galactose residues from bovine IgG and human IgG2. The Man alpha 1-6 branch of all IgG1s was more highly galactosylated than the Man alpha 1-3 branch even in the non-bisected complexes. Such findings are in conflict with the substrate specificities of galactosyltransferases. Whereas these enzymes derivatized more of the Man alpha 1-6 branch of native human IgG1, in denatured protein more of the Man alpha 1-3 branch was galactosylated. Thus, protein conformation may influence the structure of its sugar chains.