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Plant carotenoids are a family of pigments that participate in light harvesting and are essential for photoprotection against excess light. Furthermore, they act as precursors for the production of apocarotenoid hormones such as abscisic acid and strigolactones. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the genes and enzymes of the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway (which is now almost completely elucidated) and on the regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. We also discuss the relevance of Arabidopsis as a model system for the study of carotenogenesis and how metabolic engineering approaches in this plant have taught important lessons for carotenoid biotechnology.