The aim of this study was to evaluate carotenoid and vitamin E distribution in egg and tissues of newly hatched chicks from wild mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), game pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), free-range guinea fowl (Numida meleagris), hen (Gallus domesticus) and domestic duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and intensively housed hens. Carotenoid concentrations in the egg yolk of free-range guinea fowl, pheasant and wild mallard were similar (61.3-79.2 mu g/g). Egg yolks from ducks and intensively housed hens were characterised by the lowest carotenoid concentration comprising 11.2-14.8 mu g/g. However, carotenoid concentration in eggs from free-range ducks and hens was less than half of that in free-range guinea fowl or pheasant. Depending on carotenoid concentration in the livers of species studied could be placed in the following descending order: free living pheasant > free-range guinea fowl > free-range hen > intensively housed hen > wild mallard > housed duck > freerange duck. The carotenoid concentrations in other tissues of free-range guinea fowl and pheasant were substantially higher than in the other species studied. Egg yolk of housed hens was characterised by the highest alpha- and gamma-tocopherol concentrations. In accordance with the alpha-tocopherol concentration in the egg yolk, the birds can be placed in the following descending order: intensively housed hen > wild mallard > free-living pheasant > free-range duck > free-range hen = free-range guinea fowl > housed duck. The main finding of this work is species- and tissue-specific differences in carotenoid and vitamin E distribution in the various avian species studied. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.