We investigated the presence and localization of glycosaminoglycans in basal laminar deposit and drusen in age-related maculopathy. Conventional histological staining techniques and monoclonal antibodies specific for several glycosaminoglycans were used on paraffin-embedded human maculae. Furthermore, macular homogenates were analyzed with two-dimensional electrophoresis. Quantitative analysis of glycosaminoglycans was done spectrophotometrically using dimethylmethylene blue. Immunohistochemically, all basal laminar deposit stained positive for chondroitin 4-sulfate and focally positive for heparan sulfate proteoglycan. Drusen were not stained with any of the monoclonal antibodies. With two-dimensional electrophoresis, it was demonstrated that macular extracts with and without age-related maculopathy contained chondroitin sulfate. Heparan sulfate was only expressed in maculae with age-related maculopathy. The total amount of glycosaminoglycans was significantly higher in maculae with basal laminar deposit than in maculae without basal laminar deposit (P = .001). There were significant differences in the amount and composition of glycosaminoglycans between maculae with and without age-related maculopathy.