Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization tandem time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS) has been introduced in recent years as a valuable tool for the structural characterization of permethylated oligosaccharides. In this report, we describe the combination of MALDI in-source decay (ISD) with the subsequent TOF/TOF-MS analyses of specific fragments, allowing the detailed characterization of the selected part of the oligosaccharide molecule. Part of the second-generation fragment ions were different from those observed in conventional MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS experiments. Other fragments, which had already been observed in conventional MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS and again showed up in second-generation fragment analysis, could be assigned to specific parts of the molecule. Our approach disclosed different structural features of the oligosaccharides: due to permethylation, the glycosidic linkage fragments allowed the distinction between terminal, monosubstituted and disubstituted monosaccharides and indicated the oligosaccharide sequence. Moreover, substitution positions were deduced based on characteristic cross-ring fragmentation by high-energy collision-induced fragmentation. In conclusion, combination of MALDI-ISD with TOF/TOF-MS allows the detailed characterization of specific moieties of permethylated oligosaccharides and is, therefore, a powerful technique for structural glycomics. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.