In contrast to plants, algae and cyanobacteria that contain glycolipids as the major lipid components in their photosynthetic membranes, phospholipids are the dominant lipids in the membranes of anoxygenic purple phototrophic bacteria. Although the phospholipid compositions in whole cells or membranes are known for a limited number of the purple bacteria, little is known about the phospholipids associated with individual photosynthetic complexes. In this study, we investigated the phospholipid distributions in both membranes and the light-harvesting 1-reaction center (LH1-RC) complexes purified from several purple sulfur and nonsulfur bacteria. 31P NMR was used for determining the phospholipid compositions and inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy was used for measuring the total phosphorous contents. Combining these two techniques, we could determine the numbers of specific phospholipids in the purified LH1-RC complexes. A total of approximate 20-30 phospholipids per LH1-RC were detected as the tightly bound lipids in all species. The results revealed that while cardiolipin (CL) exists as a minor component in the membranes, it became the most abundant phospholipid in the purified core complexes and the sum of CL and phosphatidylglycerol accounted for more than two thirds of the total phospholipids for most species. Preferential association of these anionic phospholipids with the LH1-RC is discussed in the context of the recent high-resolution structure of this complex from Thermochromatium (Tch.) tepidum. The detergent lauryldimethylamine N-oxide was demonstrated to selectively remove phosphatidylethanolamine from the membrane of Tch. tepidum.