Recent research interests in geometrical isomers of astaxanthin (AST) are motivated by their metabolic activities in aquatic animals and human. It has been established that cis-isomers of AST are selectively absorbed in human plasma during the metabolic process; however, exact absorption mechanism is still unclear. Hence, a detailed investigation of the structural and optical properties of geometrical isomers of AST is required. Among the techniques available for the study of AST and other carotenoids, Raman spectroscopy has been much acclaimed. Raman spectra have been shown to be influenced by the electronic and mechanical confinement effects arising from the conjugated polyene chain of carotenoids. In this work, we present Raman studies of geometrical isomers of AST, along with their optical absorption characteristics. Geometrical isomers of AST were prepared by heating all trans-AST in solution form, and the isomers were separated using high performance liquid chromatography. Optical absorption spectra of cis-isomers of AST showed hypsochromic shifts in the main absorption band and formation of new bands at lower wavelengths. A detailed Raman spectral analysis performed on the cis-isomers of AST showed new modes which have not been observed and accounted for so far. In addition, we demonstrate that the electronic and mechanical confinement effects in the polyene chain of AST play an important role in the Raman spectra of geometrical isomers of AST. It is anticipated that this work will demonstrate that Raman spectroscopy is an important diagnostic tool in distinguishing and identifying the geometrical isomers of AST. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.