Carotenoids participate in light harvesting and are essential for photoprotection in photosynthetic plant tissues. They also furnish non-photosynthetic flowers and fruits with yellow to red colors to attract animals for pollination and dispersal of seeds. Although animals can not synthesize carotenoids de novo, carotenoid-derived products such as retinoids (including vitamin A) are required as visual pigments and signaling molecules. Dietary carotenoids also provide health benefits based on their antioxidant properties. The main pathway for carotenoid biosynthesis in plants and microorganisms has been virtually elucidated in recent years, and some of the identified biosynthetic genes have been successfully used in metabolic engineering approaches to overproduce carotenoids of interest in plants. Alternative approaches that enhance the metabolic flux to carotenoids by upregulating the production of their isoprenoid precursors or interfere with light-mediated regulation of carotenogenesis have been recently shown to result in increased carotenoid levels. Despite spectacular achievements in the metabolic engineering of plant carotenogenesis, much work is still ahead to better understand the regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis and accumulation in plant cells. New genetic and genomic approaches are now in progress to identify regulatory factors that might significantly contribute to improve the nutritional value of plant-derived foods by increasing their carotenoid levels.