Glycolipid and cell surface carbohydrate antigens of human polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) and of HL-60 myeloid leukemia cells were analyzed with a panel of defined, monoclonal anti-carbohydrate antibodies. Antigenicities of intact PMN, HL-60, and retinoic acid-induced HL-60 (r.a.-HL-60) were studied by flow cytofluorometry. These three cell populations displayed quantitative differences, some of which were induction dependent, in their expression of lactosyl, N-acetyllactosaminyl, Y-hapten (Fuc alpha 1----2Gal beta 1----4(Fuc alpha 1----3)GlcNAc beta 1----R), and sialosyl-X-hapten (SA alpha 2----3Gal beta 1----4(Fuc alpha 1----3)GlcNAc beta 1----R) specificities. Structures reactive with antibodies specific for long-chain mono-, and di- or tri- alpha 1----3 fucosylated lacto-series glycolipids were also detected. Glycosphingolipids purified from organic extracts of these cells were analyzed to seek information concerning the chemical basis for these surface antigenic differences, to assess the structural and antigenic diversity of PMN and HL-60 glycolipids, and to quantitate chemically and antigenically prominent glycolipids. Binding of monoclonal antibodies to thin-layer chromatograms demonstrated that each of the specificities on intact cells was carried by one or more distinct glycolipids. The abundance of immunoreactive glycolipids in the extracts paralleled the relative staining intensities of the intact cell populations. Several "cryptic" glycolipid antigens, including alpha 2----6 sialosylated structures enriched five- to 10-fold in PMN extracts, were not detected on intact cells. Lactosylceramide accounted for two-thirds of the approximately 1.5 X 10(9) glycolipid molecules contained in each PMN. The remaining glycolipid antigens appeared to include structurally diverse fucolipids, fucogangliosides, and neutral and sialosylated glycolipids with Gal beta 1----4GlcNAc beta 1----R terminal core structure. The abundance, diversity, and induction-dependent expression of these structures suggest that they may participate in PMN maturation and function.