Carotenoids are suitable photoprotectants, and beta-carotene supplements are used for protection against ultraviolet (UV) light-induced erythema. Protective effects are also observed when carotenoids are provided with the diet. Here, we investigated the photoprotective effects of synthetic lycopene in comparison with a tomato extract (Lyc-o-Mato) and a drink containing solubilized Lyc-o-Mato (Lyc-o-Guard-Drink). With these different sources, the volunteers ingested similar amounts of lycopene (about 10 mg/day). After 12 weeks of supplementation, significant increases in lycopene serum levels and total skin carotenoids were observed in all groups. Significant increases in the serum levels of phytofluene and phytoene occurred in the Lyc-o-Mato and the Lyc-o-Guard-Drink group. At weeks 0, 4, and 12 an erythema was induced with a solar light simulator. Dorsal skin of each subject was irradiated with 1.25 minimal erythemal dose (MED). Reddening of the skin was evaluated before and 24 hours after irradiation by chromametry and expressed as positive a-values (red/green-axis). delta a-values (difference of a-value before irradiation and after 24 hours) were used as an index of erythema intensity. A decrease in the delta a-value from week 0 to week 12, indicating prevention of erythema formation, was observed in all groups. Compared to week 0, the delta a-value at week 12 was 25% lower in the synthetic lycopene group. The protective effect was more pronounced in the Lyc-o-Mato (38%) and Lyc-o-Guard-Drink (48%) groups. In the two latter groups, phytofluene and phytoene may have contributed to protection. Both of these carotenoids exhibit absorption maxima at wavelengths of UV light. Absorption of UV light protects skin from photodamage and might explain the differences observed between groups.