Glycoproteins, as a class of biomolecules, present a number of differences in structure and function from non-glycosylated proteins. This makes their purification and characterisation a potentially daunting prospect. This article provides a brief summary of the occurrence, structure and composition of glycoproteins and the main areas where these factors may complicate the purification and characterisation process. There follows a review of the range of techniques available, an insight into the choices of ways forward in considering glycoprotein purification and characterisation. Appropriate prominence is given to lectins; their application to the purification, identification and characterisation of glycoproteins, and the major contribution they have made to the study of this class of biomolecules.