A summary is provided of the available data on the composition of gangliosides and glycosphingolipids in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) including myelins and their antigenic properties. The composition of gangliosides and glycosphingolipids in the PNS is very different from that in the central nervous system (CNS), both quantitatively and qualitatively. One major difference is the abundance of neolacto-series gangliosides in the PNS, with the backbone structure Gal beta 1-4GlcNAc beta1-3Gal beta 1-4Glc1-1'Cer. Their abundance contrasts with the abundance of ganglio-series gangliosides in the CNS. The neolacto-series gangliosides are localized mainly in the myelins of the PNS. In addition to gangliosides, other acidic and neutral glycosphingolipids in the neolactoseries are also characteristic of the myelins of the PNS. The ceramide (fatty acid and sphingosine base) compositions of gangliosides in the PNS are different from those in the CNS gangliosides, having greater percentages of long-chain fatty acids and dehydrosphingosines than found in the CNS gangliosides.