The composition of the molecular species of acidic phospholipids in Escherichia coli B during the late exponential growth phase at 37 degrees C was determined. Two phosphatidyl groups of cardiolipin, the 3-(3-sn-phosphatidyl) and 1-(3-sn-phosphatidyl) moieties of cardiolipin, were isolated by limited hydrolysis with phospholipase C. No significant difference in the composition of the molecular species was found between the 3-(3-sn-phosphatidyl) and 1-(3-sn-phosphatidyl) moieties. On the other hand, the composition of the molecular species of phosphatidylglycerol was different from that of cardiolipin. Phosphatidylglycerol contained more of the 1-palmitoyl 2-cis-9,10-methylenehexadecanoyl and 1-palmitoyl 2-cis-11,12-methyleneoctadecanoyl species than did cardiolipin. The difference in the composition of the molecular species between cardiolipin and phosphatidylglycerol may depend on the difference in the turnover rates of both phospholipids.