We have developed a method for the rapid separation of anionic oligosaccharide species by high-performance liquid chromatography utilizing a MicroPak AX-10 ion-exchange column (Varian Associates) with the mobile phase consisting of 25-500 mm KH2PO4, pH4.0. Separation of oligosaccharides bearing zero, one, two, three or four sialic acid residues requires less than 45 min. Oligosaccharides containing mannose-6-PO4 moieties in monoester or diester linkage can also be analyzed in this system. Preparative separations of as much as 20 mg of oligosaccharide can be accomplished in a single chromatographic analysis with quantitative yields of oligosaccharide. This method should prove useful for the rapid isolation and characterization of anionic oligosaccharide species.