Correlated ultrastructural and biochemical methods were used to identify and localize Concanavalin A (Con A) receptors in the desmosomes of bovine epidermis. Specific carbohydrate residues were labeled with ferritin-Con A in thin sections of tissue embedded in a hydrophilic resin. Quantitative mapping of ferritin distribution in labeled desmosomes revealed that Con A receptors are localized in the intercellular zone and concentrated along the desmosomal midline or central dense stratum. Labeling was almost entirely absent when sections were treated with ferritin-Con A in the presence of 0.1 M alpha-methyl mannoside, a hapten-inhibitor of Con A. "Whole" desmosomes and desmosomal intercellular regions (desmosomal "cores") were purified from bovine muzzle epidermis. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis reveals a limited number of major desmosomal protein constituents. Certain of these are glycoproteins and are greatly enriched in the core fraction. Almost all the desmosomal glycoproteins are intensely labeled when electrophoretic gels of whole desmosome or core fractions are exposed to fluorescent Concanavalin A.