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glycolipid Any of a group of sugar-containing lipids, in which the lipid portion of the molecule is usually based on glycerol (see glyceride) or sphingosine and the sugar is typically galactose, glucose, or inositol. Glycolipids are components of biological membranes. In animal plasma membranes they are found in the outer layer of the lipid bilayer; the simplest animal glycolipids are the cerebrosides. Plant glycolipids are glycerides in which the sugar group is most commonly galactose. They are the principal lipid constituents of chloroplasts.