Gangliosides and proteoglycans with various sugar chains exist abundantly in the brain. They participate in intercellular recognition by revealing the sugar chains on the cell surface, and some of them show neurite-extension activity. Several recognition features that are mediated by the sugar chains are known such as saccharide-saccharide interaction and cell-surface sugar-chain receptor-mediated recognition. Experiments on animals lacking the sugar-chain synthetic system with the technique of gene targeting suggest that phylogenetically "old" sugar chains such as chondroitin sulfate appear necessary for early development of the organism while relatively "new" sugar chains such as gangliosides, which appear with further development of the brain, are necessary for differentiation maturity processes. On the other hand, research using primary cultured neurons showed similar effects of the gangliosides and chondroitin sulfate on cell differentiation. It is possible that these sugar chains share the glyco-receptor-mediated signal transduction system.