Gangliosides from benign and malignant melanomas and from normal skin of the fish genus Xiphophorus were isolated and analyzed by thin-layer chromatography. Individual ganglioside components were characterized by mapping according to their sialic acid content and by cleavage with neuraminidases. In all three tissues examined, sulfatide and the gangliosides NeuAc-GalCer (GM4), II3NeuAc-LacCer (GM3), II3NeuAc-GgOse3Cer (GM2), and II3(NeuAc)2-LacCer (GD3) were found. Ganglioside GD3 yielded a positive reaction, following immunoadsorption with mouse monoclonal antibody R24 on thin-layer plates. Two alkali-labile disialoganglioside species were specifically recognized by mouse monoclonal antibody D1.1, thus indicating the presence of O-acetyl-neuraminic acid residues. One of them, a major ganglioside component of the malignant melanoma, was identified as O-acetyl-GD3, since it could be converted to the R24-positive GD3 ganglioside after alkaline saponification. The other one appears to be restricted to the malignant tumor and represents a novel melanoma-associated ganglioside derivative. It was characterized as O-acetyl(NeuAc)2-nLc4Cer by exoglycosidase cleavage, by proving its neutral carbohydrate backbone as type II-chain lacto-series oligosaccharide using mouse monoclonal antibody 1B2, and by its cross-reaction with antibody R24 following alkaline treatment. Using antibody R24 and cryopreserved tissue sections of both benign and malignant amelanotic melanomas from albino fishes, it was demonstrated that one of the main melanoma-associated gangliosides, GD3, was exposed predominantly in the malignant tumor. Thus, the chemical nature and even the immunohistochemical localization of the gangliosides in fish melanomas proved to be very similar to those of the known gangliosides in the phylogenetically distant human melanomas.