Astaxanthin is a pigmenting carotenoid occurring naturally in plankton, crustaceans and fish. The astaxanthin under assessment is of synthetic origin. The FEEDAP Panel considers synthetic astaxanthin safe for salmonids up to 100 mg/kg complete diet. The conclusion on the safety of astaxanthin for salmonids can be extrapolated to other fish and ornamental fish at the same dose. Dietary concentrations of up to 100 mg astaxanthin/kg feed are safe for crustaceans. The FEEDAP Panel could not conclude on the safety of astaxanthin for ornamental birds. Based on a BMDL10 of 3.4 mg/kg bw per day (calculated for liver hypertrophy in female rat in a carcinogenicity study) and applying an uncertainty factor of 100, it is possible to set an ADI of 0.034 mg ATX/kg bw (equivalent to 2.0 mg ATX per 60 kg person per day). The use of astaxanthin up to the maximum permitted dietary level for salmon and trout is of no concern for the safety of the consumer. As some formulations of astaxanthin may be dusty, and in the absence of data on inhalation toxicity, it is prudent to regard astaxanthin-containing additives as being potentially hazardous by inhalation. In the absence of any information on irritancy to skin or eyes or on skin sensitisation, astaxanthin-containing additives should be regarded as hazardous by exposure to skin or eyes. The FEEDAP Panel considers that the use of synthetic astaxanthin (100 mg astaxanthin/kg fish feed) does not pose a significant additional risk to the environment compared with natural astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is efficacious in colouring the flesh of salmonids and the epidermis of crustaceans. Astaxanthin is efficacious in pigmenting the flesh of food-producing fish other than salmonids and the skin of ornamental fish. No conclusion can be made on the efficacy of oral astaxanthin in pigmenting the plumage of ornamental birds.