Dietary fucoxanthin has been reported to exert several physiological functions, and fucoxanthinol is considered to be the primary active metabolite of fucoxanthin. However, there is no information about the pharmacokinetics of fucoxanthinol in human subjects. In the present study, eighteen human volunteers were orally administered kombu extract containing 31 mg fucoxanthin, and their peripheral blood was collected 5 min before and 0·5, 1, 2, 4, 8 and 24 h after the treatment. Plasma fucoxanthinol concentrations were measured by HPLC, and the pharmacokinetics of fucoxanthinol were as follows: maximum concentration, 44·2 nmol/l; time at maximum concentration, 4 h; terminal half-time, 7·0 h; area under the curve (AUC) for 1–24 h, 578·7 nmol/l × h; AUC(∞), 663·7 nmol/l × h. In addition to fucoxanthinol, we also attempted to detect amarouciaxanthin A, a hepatic metabolite of fucoxanthinol, using HPLC, but it was not present in the volunteers' plasma. On the other hand, a peak that was suspected to represent the cis-isomer of fucoxanthinol was found in the HPLC chromatogram. By comparing the present results with those of a previous study using mice, we found that the bioavailability and metabolism of fucoxanthinol differ between human subjects and mice.