The glycoprotein IgM is the major antibody produced in the primary immune response to antigens, circulating in the serum both as a pentamer and a hexamer. Pentameric IgM has a single J chain, which is absent in the hexamer. The mu (heavy) chain of IgM has five N-linked glycosylation sites. Asn-171, Asn-332, and Asn-395 are occupied by complex glycans, whereas Asn-402 and Asn-563 are occupied by oligomannose glycans. The glycosylation of human polyclonal IgM from serum has been analyzed. IgM was found to contain 23.4% oligomannose glycans GlcNAc2Man5-9, consistent with 100% occupancy of Asn-402 and 17% occupancy of the variably occupied site at Asn-563. Mannan-binding lectin (MBL) is a member of the collectin family of proteins, which bind to oligomannose and GlcNAc-terminating structures. A commercial affinity chromatography resin containing immobilized MBL has been reported to be useful for partial purification of mouse and also human IgM. Human IgM glycoforms that bind to immobilized MBL were isolated; these accounted for only 20% of total serum IgM. Compared with total serum IgM, the MBL-binding glycoforms contained 97% more GlcNAc-terminating structures and 8% more oligomannose structures. A glycosylated model of pentameric IgM was constructed, and from this model, it became evident that IgM has two distinct faces, only one of which can bind to antigen, as the J chain projects from the non-antigen-binding face. Antigen-bound IgM does not bind to MBL, as the target glycans appear to become inaccessible once IgM has bound antigen. Antigen-bound IgM pentamers therefore do not activate complement via the lectin pathway, but MBL might have a role in the clearance of aggregated IgM.