Total ganglioside fractions from the human cranial nerves purified on a Phenyl Sepharose column, were given mild alkaline treatment, after which their composition and amounts of lipid-bound sialic acid were determined by HPTLC-densitometry with resorcinol as the coloring reagent. The total amounts of lipid-bound sialic acid were 156.5 ng/mg of wet tissue in the Ist cranial nerve (olfactory tract) and 131.9 ng/mg in the IInd nerve, greater than the amounts in the other nerves (99.1-120.0 ng/mg). The Ist, IInd, and VIIIth nerves had GM4, but not LM1. It may reflect their histological feature of the central nervous system. The IIIrd, IVth, and VIth nerves, as well as the IInd, had significantly higher percentages of GQ1b (11.6-13.2%) than the other nerves (5.2-8.4%). The high proportion of GQ1b specific to these three cranial nerves involved in the ocular movement lends support to the role of serum anti-GQ1b antibody in the pathogenetic mechanisms of ophthalmoplegia in Miller Fisher syndrome and Guillain-Barré syndrome.