The effects of beta-carotene, canthaxanthin, and extracts of tomato paste (containing lycopene) and orange juice (containing cryptoxanthin) onaflatoxin B1 (AFB1)-induced mutagenesis in S. typhimurium TA 100 and TA 98 were investigated. Inhibition of mutagenesis was studied during and following completion of AFB1 metabolism (i.e., after the addition of menadione), thereby permitting separate examination of the metabolic activation and phenotypic expression phases. Each experimental carotenoid, except lycopene, inhibited AFB1-induced mutagenesis in both tester strains. Cryptoxanthin was the most potent inhibitor, being at least an order of magnitude more potent than the other carotenoids. Inhibition by beta-carotene and canthaxanthin was more prominent during the activation phase, whereas cryptoxanthin was more effective during the subsequent phenotypic expression phase. These inhibitory effects were not dependent on conversion to retinol.