The sensory hair cells of the inner ear are coated with a variety of glycoproteins and glycolipids which can be identified by the binding of specific lectins. The present study examined the binding patterns of three lectins-Wheat Germ Agglutinin, Peanut Agglutinin, and lectin from Griffonia simplicifolia (Isoform B4)-in the avian utricle. Each of the lectins exhibited a distinct pattern of hair cell labeling. Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) appeared to label the ciliary bundles of all sensory hair cells. In contrast, the binding of Peanut Agglutinin (PNA) was mainly confined to the ciliary bundles of extrastriolar hair cells. Finally, lectin from Griffonia simplicifolia (GS-IB4) labeled a subpopulation of hair cells in all regions of the chick utricle. Those bundles were much smaller than the majority of ciliary bundles labeled by either WGA or PNA, and the density of GS-IB4-labeled bundles in the normal mature utricle was relatively low. Increased densities of GS-IB4-labeled hair cells were observed in the embryonic utricle and during the process of hair cell regeneration. The observations suggest that GS-IB4 labels a glycoprotein that is expressed preferentially on the ciliary bundles of immature hair cells.