The antioxidant activities of astaxanthin and related carotenoids have been measured by employing a newly developed fluorometric assay. This assay is based on 4,4-difluoro-3,5-bis(4-phenyl-1, 3-butadienyl)-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene (BODIPY 665/676) as an indicator; 2,2'-azobis-2,4-dimethylvaleronitrile (AMVN) as a peroxyl radical generator; and 6-hydroxy-2,5,7, 8-tetramethylchroman-2-carboxylic acid (Trolox) as a calibrator in an organic and liposomal media. By employing this assay, three categories of carotenoids were examined: namely, the hydrocarbon carotenoids lycopene, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene; the hydroxy carotenoid lutein; and the alpha-hydroxy-ketocarotenoid astaxanthin. The relative peroxyl radical scavenging activities of Trolox, astaxanthin, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, and alpha-carotene in octane/butyronitrile (9:1, v/v) were determined to be 1.0, 1.0, 1.3, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, and 0.2, respectively. In dioleoylphosphatidyl choline (DOPC) liposomal suspension in Tri-HCl buffer (pH 7.4 at 40 degrees C), the relative reactivities of astaxanthin, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, and lutein were found to be 1.00, 0.9, 0.6, and 0.6, respectively. When BODIPY 665/676 was replaced by 4,4-difluoro-5-(4-phenyl-1,3-butadienyl)-4-bora-3a, 4a-diaza-s-indacene-3-undecanoic acid (BODIPY 581/591 C(11)) as an indicator, astaxanthin showed the highest antioxidant activity toward peroxyl radicals. The relative reactivities of Trolox, astaxanthin, alpha-tocopherol, alpha-carotene, lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene were determined to be 1.0, 1.3, 0.9, 0.5, 0.4, 0.2, and 0.4, respectively.