In this article we report on the syntheses, self-organizing properties, and structures of a variety of cerebrosides and related synthetic glycolipids. The thermotropic and lyotropic liquid crystalline properties of the materials were evaluated in detail. All of the families of materials studied exhibited columnar mesophases. In the dry state the aliphatic chains were found to be located on the exterior of the columns, whereas in the wet state the reverse was the case with the polar headgroups on the exterior. Thus, the aliphatic chains, act almost like hydrocarbon solvents in the dry state.