Monoclonal antibodies (MABs) have been raised against acidic glycolipids extracted from the electric organ of Torpedo marmorata. One of these, designated L9, appears to recognize acidic glycolipids in adult T. marmorata electric organ, electromotor nerves and brain, adult rat sciatic nerve, and in embryonic and neonatal rat brain, starting at embryonic day (ED) 15 and disappearing by the 20th day of post-natal life. The epitope is present in growth cones isolated from 4-day-old rats; its proportion relative to total gangliosides is, however, no higher than that found in whole neonatal brain membranes. Desialidation of the acidic glycolipid fraction modifies neither the immunoreactivity nor the RF value following thin-layer chromatography (TLC) of the antigen; it is concluded that the antigen is not a ganglioside. The MAB, HNK-1, recognizes the L9 antigen. Both HNK-1 and L9 recognize a sulphoglycolipid of the same RF in TLC. The function of the L9 antigen is not known but its evolutionary conservation, presence in growth cones and its developmental regulation in the mammalian central nervous system indicate that it plays an important role in nervous system maturation.