Depending on whether the glycosidic bond lies "above" or "below" the plane of the galactose molecule, galactosides are classified as α-galactosides or β-galactosides.
A β-galactoside is a type of galactoside in which the glycosidic bond lies above the plane of the galactose residue. The most commonly recognized and used β-galactoside in biochemistry is lactose. However, other chemicals, such as ONPG, are known, but these are typically synthesized for biochemical assays. An enzyme that breaks the β-galactoside bond is called a β-galactosidase.