Vertebrate soluble beta-galactoside-binding lectins form a growing protein family that recently have been named galectins. Seven different galectins have been sequenced and characterized in mammals, and there is compelling evidence for the existence of other members of this lectin family. Three among six galectins are homodimers with (i) an identical subunit of a relative molecular mass of about 14500, and (ii) amino acid sequence homologies giving rise to possible immunochemical cross-reactivities. They are indistinguishable from each other by conventional sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), even when followed by immunoblotting. However, their different isoelectric points allow their identification using isoelectric focusing and two-dimensional (2-D) polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. A strategy was developed to identify these galectins in crude extracts from cells and tissues, based on the two-dimensional electrophoresis with immobilized pH gradient (IPG-Dalt) analysis of the specific spots of purified galectins and of the spots of crude extracts, after silver staining. In addition, 2-D immunoblotting using anti-galectin 1 (Gal-1) and anti carbohydrate-binding protein 15 (CPB15) antibodies were performed on brain and leukemia cells (HL60) allowing an identification of related polypeptides. Our results indicate that the use of IPG-Dalt provides a suitable reproducibility and allows the detection of galectins or other galactoside-binding proteins even at basic pIs.