With the association between increased carotenoid intake and lower risk of chronic diseases, the absorption of lutein from the diet becomes an important factor in its delivery and physiological action. The primary objective of this study was to gain an understanding of how a new formulation technology (mixture of mono- and diglycerides (MDG)), affected lutein absorption. Subjects (n 24) were randomised in a cross-over, double-blind study to receive a single dose of 6 mg lutein (FloraGLO 20 %) provided as capsules containing either high-oleic safflower (SAF) oil or a MDG oil. Subjects receiving a single dose of lutein in MDG showed a significantly greater change from baseline (0 h) to 4, 6, 8, 12, 24, 48 and 336 h (P<0·05) and baseline adjusted AUC for plasma lutein at 48 and 336 h (P<0·001) as compared with subjects given lutein in SAF. Analysis of the 48 h absorption kinetics of lutein showed that the time to peak level of lutein (12 h) was the same for SAF and MDG groups, but the change in plasma lutein at 12 and 48 h were 129 and 320 % higher, respectively, for MDG compared with SAF. This difference continued as the adjusted AUC 0–48 and 0–336 h for the MDG group was 232 and 900 % higher, respectively, v. SAF. The study data show that by changing the lipid that is combined with a lutein supplement results in significant increases in lutein absorption in healthy adults.