The carotenoid content of 10 different organs obtained at autopsy from 16 humans was determined using a high-performance liquid chromatography assay. The same qualitative pattern of carotenoids found in serum was found for all the tissues, although there were important quantitative differences in the different carotenoids between organs. The median levels of zeaxanthins, lycopene and beta-carotene varied disproportionately between organs; similar levels of one carotenoid for two organs would not predict similar levels of another carotenoid for the same organs. Similarly, there was not a consistent relationship between all the carotenoids for a given organ. The uneven but wide tissue distribution of most dietary carotenoids may indicate an active biological role for these compounds.