Recently, several informative reports have been published on spectroscopy experiments performed on cleaved surfaces of the bilayered colossal magnetoresistive manganite La2-2xSr1+2xMn2O7 (Konoto et al 2004 Phys. Rev. Lett. 93 107201, Freeland et al 2005 Nat. Mater. 4 62, Mannella et al 2005 Nature 438 474, Ronnow et al 2006 Nature 440 1025). For the detailed interpretation of these results, it is of importance to know exactly which layer within the crystal structure is exposed to the surface upon cleavage. Here we combine crystal structure arguments, scanning tunnelling microscopy and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements to demonstrate that the crystals cleave between the rare-earth rock-salt oxide layers, leaving one outermost rare-earth oxide layer before the first electronically active MnO bilayer.