Complementary experiments were performed to indicate the presence or absence of sialic acids in axenically cultured Panagrellus redivivus and Caenorhabditis elegans. Competitive displacement experiments with radiolabeled Limax flavus agglutinin demonstrated the presence of sialic acid in nematodes grown in medium which contained liver extract as a growth factor but the absence of sialic acid when heme was substituted for liver extract. This finding suggested that sialic acid present in the liver medium was responsible for conflicting results of other studies. Transmission electron microscopy of thin sections from nematodes labeled with an LFA-ferritin conjugate revealed no label to the surface area of the cephalic chemosensilla. Fluorometric analysis with a modification of the thiobarbituric acid assay was negative for sialic acid. Analyses by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, sensitive to the high picomole range, were also negative for sialic acid. Taken together the results provide evidence for the absence of sialic acid in P. redivivus and C. elegans using the most sensitive and diagnostic technique currently available.