The kinetics of anthocyanin metabolism was investigated in a human feeding trial. Volunteers (n 12) consumed purple carrots containing five anthocyanin forms: cyanidin-3-(xylose-glucose-galactoside), cyanidin-3-(xylose-galactoside), cyanidin-3-(xylose-sinapoyl-glucose-galactoside), cyanidin-3-(xylose-feruloyl-glucose-galactoside) and cyanidin-3-(xylose-coumuroyl-glucose-galactoside). The purple carrots were served as three different treatments in a crossover design with a 3-week washout between treatments. Purple carrot treatments were 250 g raw carrots, 250 g cooked carrots and 500 g cooked carrots. Serial blood and urine samples were collected for 8 and 24 h after the dose, respectively, and analysed for anthocyanins. Of the anthocyanin forms ingested, four were detected in plasma and urine: cyanidin-3-(xylose-glucose-galactoside), cyanidin-3-(xylose-galactoside), cyanidin-3-(xylose-sinapoyl-glucose-galactoside) and cyanidin-3-(xylose-feruloyl-glucose-galactoside). The time courses of plasma and urine anthocyanin contents were evaluated with compartmental modelling. Results showed that absorption, gastrointestinal transit and plasma elimination are dependent on anthocyanin structure. Absorption efficiencies of acylated compounds (cyanidin-3-(xylose-sinapoyl-glucose-galactoside) and cyanidin-3-(xylose-feruloyl-glucose-galactoside)) were less than those for non-acylated anthocyanins (cyanidin-3-(xylose-glucose-galactoside) and cyanidin-3-(xylose-galactoside)). The acylated anthocyanins exhibited a shorter half-life for gastrointestinal absorption than the non-acylated anthocyanins. Fractional elimination of non-acylated compounds was slower than that for acylated anthocyanins. These results provide the first information about the kinetics of individual anthocyanins in human beings.