Despite being a key location for paleoglaciological research in north-central Asia, with the largest number of modern and Pleistocene glaciers, and in the transition zone between the humid Russian Altai and dry Gobi Altai, little is known about the precise extent and timing of Holocene and late Pleistocene glaciations in western Mongolia. Here we present detailed information on the distribution of modern and late Holocene glaciers, and new results addressing the geomorphological differentiation and numerical dating (by optically stimulated luminescence, OSL) of Pleistocene glacial sequences in these areas. For the Mongolian Altai, geochronological results suggest large ice advances correlative to marine isotope stages (MIS) 4 and 2. This is in contrast to results from the Khangai mountains, central Mongolia, showing that significant ice advances additionally occurred during MIS3. During the Pleistocene, glacial equilibrium-line altitudes (ELAs) were ~500 to >1000m lower in the more humid portion of the Russian and western Mongolian Altai, compared to 300-600 m in the drier ranges of the eastern Mongolian Altai. Pleistocene ELAs in the Khangai mountains were depressed by 700-1000 m, suggesting more humid conditions at times of major glaciation than in the eastern Mongolian Altai. This paleo-ELA pattern reveals that the precipitation gradient from the drier to the more humid regions was more pronounced during glacial times than at present.