Commercially prepared marigold flower (Tagetes erecta) extract was saponified and analyzed for carotenoid composition. HPLC analyses were performed on two normal-phase columns (beta-Cyclobond and silica) and on a C(30) reversed-phase column. The extract contained 93% utilizable pigments (detected at 450 nm), consisting of all-trans and cis isomers of zeaxanthin (5%), all-trans and cis isomers of lutein, and lutein esters (88%). All were identified by chromatographic retention, UV-visible spectra, and positive ion electrospray mass spectrometry in comparison to authentic standards. Contrary to previous findings, insignificant levels (<0.3%) of lutein oxidation products were detected in the saponified extract. This compositional determination is important for the application of marigold extract in nutritional supplements and increases its value as a poultry feed colorant because it contains more biologically useful lutein compounds than previously believed.