Serum transferrin from a child with carbohydrate deficient syndrome type II was isolated by immunoaffinity chromatography and separated into minor and major fractions by fast protein liquid chromatography. The structure of the glycans released from the major fraction by hydrazinolysis was established by application of methanolysis and 1H-NMR spectroscopy. The results led to the identification of an N-acetyllactosamininic type monosialylated, monoantennary Man(alpha1-3) linked glycan. By electrospray-mass spectrometry analysis, the whole serum transferrin was separated into at least seven species (I to VII) with molecular masses ranging from 77,958 to 79,130 Da. On the basis of a polypeptide chain molecular mass of 75,143 Da, it was calculated that the major transferrin species III (78,247 Da) contains two monosialylated monoantennary glycans. The molecular mass of transferrin species V and VI (78,678 and 78,971 Da) suggests that one of their two glycans contains an additional N-acetyllactosamine and a sialylated N-acetyllactosamine units, respectively. Transferrin species I and V were found to correspond to the desialylated forms of species III and VI. The abnormal glycan structures can be explained by a defect in the N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase II activity [Charuk et al. (1995) Eur J Biochem 230: 797-805].