||Background: Low-molecular-weight glutenin subunits (LMW-GS) play a crucial role in determining end-use quality of common wheat by influencing the viscoelastic properties of dough. Four different methods - sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE, IEF × SDS-PAGE), matrixassisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), were used to characterize the LMW-GS composition in 103 cultivars from 12 countries. Results: At the Glu-A3 locus, all seven alleles could be reliably identified by 2-DE and PCR. However, the alleles Glu-A3e and Glu-A3d could not be routinely distinguished from Glu-A3f and Glu-A3g, respectively, based on SDS-PAGE, and the allele Glu-A3a could not be differentiated from Glu-A3c by MALDI-TOF-MS. At the Glu-B3 locus, alleles Glu-B3a, Glu-B3b, Glu-B3c, Glu-B3g, Glu-B3h and Glu-B3j could be clearly identified by all four methods, whereas Glu-B3ab, Glu-B3ac, Glu- B3ad could only be identified by the 2-DE method. At the Glu-D3 locus, allelic identification was problematic for the electrophoresis based methods and PCR. MALDI-TOF-MS has the potential to reliably identify the Glu-D3 alleles. Conclusions: PCR is the simplest, most accurate, lowest cost, and therefore recommended method for identification of Glu-A3 and Glu-B3 alleles in breeding programs. A combination of methods was required to identify certain alleles, and would be especially useful when characterizing new alleles. A standard set of 30 cultivars for use in future studies was chosen to represent all LMW-GS allelic variants in the collection. Among them, Chinese Spring, Opata 85, Seri 82 and Pavon 76 were recommended as a core set for use in SDS-PAGE gels. Glu-D3c and Glu-D3e are the same allele. Two new alleles, namely, Glu-D3m in cultivar Darius, and Glu-D3n in Fengmai 27, were identified by 2-DE. Utilization of the suggested standard cultivar set, seed of which is available from the CIMMYT and INRA Clermont-Ferrand germplasm collections, should also promote information sharing in the identification of individual LMW-GS and thus provide useful information for quality improvement in common wheat.