Objectives: Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and hCG variants are of high clinical importance for the diagnosis of pregnancy, monitoring of abnormal and ectopic pregnancies, testing for Down’s syndrome or monitoring therapy of hCG-secreting malignancies. In serum and urine, hCG appears in microheterogeneous isoforms with respect to protein backbone structure and the extent of glycosylation. The present study reports on the identification, immunological characterization, biological activity of glycosylation isoforms of pregnancy (preg) and tumor-derived (tu) hCG, and the impact of glycosylation on diagnostic immunoassays. Methods: Twenty-two urinary preg- and tu-hCG isoforms were separated by preparative isoelectrofocusing (hCG-pI variants) and characterized by Western blot. Number, topography and accessibility pattern of epitopes on their surface was evaluated by two-site radioimmunoassays using 14 different monoclonal antibodies (mabs). Binding of hCG isoforms to four different LH/CG receptors was investigated in radioreceptor assays, and their biological activity determined by measuring cAMP elevation. Results: All 22 hCG glycosylation variants appeared immunologically intact: each isoform, even when highly acidic, expressed all 14 surface epitopes which were arranged in a topographical manner indistinguishable from crude hCG. hCG isoforms were able to bind to four different receptor variants, with slightly varying affinities, but orientations indistinguishable from each other as shown by identical epitope accessibility patterns. Each of the hCG-pI variants was able to activate the LH/CG-Rs, but with varying reactivities. Conclusions: We conclude that in contrast to deglycosylated hCG, all hCG glycosylation isoforms investigated act as receptor agonists. Moreover, there is no overspecificity of mabs to certain hCG isoforms due to carbohydrate variability that exclude others from diagnostic measurement.