Treatment of purified human glycophorin A with alkaline borohydride cleaved the oligosaccharide side chains to yield alditol derivatives that were separated by gel filtration into three mixtures of low molecular weight compounds. Each mixture was oxidised with periodate, and the products were reduced with borohydride and analysed after acetylation or methylation by GLC-MS and FABMS. The resulting data allowed the monosaccharide sequence and linkage positions to be assigned to each component of the mixtures. The anomeric configuration was determined by 1H NMR spectroscopy of the intact fractions. The structures of a desialylated tetrasaccharide, two monosialylated trisaccharides, and five other minor products were defined.