||Sphingomyelins (SMs) and ceramides are known to interact favorably in bilayer membranes. Because ceramide lacks a headgroup that could shield its hydrophobic body from unfavorable interactions with water, accommodation of ceramide under the larger phosphocholine headgroup of SM could contribute to their favorable interactions. To elucidate the role of SM headgroup for SM/ceramide interactions, we explored the effects of reducing the size of the phosphocholine headgroup (removing one, two, or three methyls on the choline moiety, or the choline moiety itself). Using differential scanning calorimetry and fluorescence spectroscopy, we found that the size of the SM headgroup had no marked effect on the thermal stability of ordered domains formed by SM analog/palmitoyl ceramide (PCer) interactions. In more complex bilayers composed of a fluid glycerophospholipid, SM analog, and PCer, the thermal stability and molecular order of the laterally segregated gel domains were roughly identical despite variation in SM headgroup size. We suggest that that the association between PCer and SM analogs was stabilized by ceramide's aversion for disordered phospholipids, by interfacial hydrogen bonding between PCer and the SM analogs, and by attractive van der Waals' forces between saturated chains of PCer and SM analogs.