A high intake of tomato products is associated with a lower incidence of upper aerodigestive tract and prostate cancers. This beneficial effect might be explained by a higher intake of carotenoids such as lycopene and/or beta-carotene. Because tomato peels, usually eliminated during tomato processing, are a valuable source of these carotenoids, we designed a study to examine whether a tomato paste enriched in tomato peels (ETP, 6% peel) increases the absorption of these carotenoids compared to a classically made tomato paste (CTP). Carotenoid bioaccessibility was evaluated using an in vitro digestion model by measuring the amount of carotenoids transferred from the pastes to micelles. Carotenoid absorption by human intestinal cells (Caco-2) was evaluated after the addition of carotenoid-rich micelles (obtained from the in vitro digestion of the 2 pastes). Carotenoid bioavailability in humans was assessed by measuring chylomicron carotenoid responses in a postprandial experiment in which 8 healthy men consumed 2 meals containing either the ETP or the CTP. ETP contained 47.6 mg lycopene (58% more than CTP) and 1.75 mg beta-carotene (99% more than CTP) per 100 g of paste. In micelles, 30% more lycopene and 81% more beta-carotene were recovered after ETP than after CTP in vitro digestion. The amount of carotenoids absorbed by Caco-2 cells was 75% greater (P < or = 0.05) for lycopene and 41% greater (P < or = 0.05) for beta-carotene after the addition of micelles from ETP than from CTP. After ETP intake the chylomicron beta-carotene response was 74% greater than after CTP intake, and the lycopene response tended to be greater (34.1%, P = 0.093). Peel enrichment of tomato paste with tomato peel is an interesting option for increasing lycopene and beta-carotene intakes.