Glycomic analyses over the years have revealed that non-vertebrate eukaryotes express oligosaccharides with inorganic and zwitterionic modifications which are either occurring in different contexts as compared to, or are absent from, mammals. Examples of anionic N-glycans (carrying sulphate or phosphate) are known from amoebae, fungi, molluscs and insects, while zwitterionic modifications by phosphorylcholine, phosphoethanolamine and aminoethylphosphonate occur on N-, O- and lipid-linked glycans from trichomonads, annelids, fungi, molluscs, insects, cestodes and nematodes. For detection of zwitterionic and anionic glycans, mass spectrometry has been a key method, but their ionic character affects the preparation and purification; therefore, as part of a glycomic strategy, the possibility of their presence must be considered in advance. On the other hand, their ionisation and fragmentation in positive and negative ion mode mass spectrometry as well as specific chemical or enzymatic treatments can prove diagnostic to their analysis. In our laboratory, we combine solid-phase extraction, reversed and normal phase HPLC, MALDI-TOF MS, exoglycosidase digests and hydrofluoric acid treatment to reveal N-glycans modified with anionic and zwitterionic moieties in a wide range of organisms. It is to be anticipated that, as more species are glycomically analysed, zwitterionic and anionic modifications of N-glycans will prove rather widespread. This knowledge is - in the longer term - then the basis for understanding the function of this cornucopia of glycan modifications.