This trial was carried out to compare the effect of the dietary supplementation of high doses of either synthetic pigment ethyl ester of β-apo-8'-carotenoic acid (apo-ester) or natural pigments, mainly lutein and zeaxanthin, extracted from Tagetes erecta, on egg quality of hens laying brown shell eggs (ISA Brown) and white shell eggs (Hy-Line White W-36). The hens of each strain were divided into 6 groups and fed a corn-soybean basal diet supplemented either with 40, 60, and 80 ppm of apo-ester (APO) or with 120, 180, and 240 ppm of marigold extract (MAR). Egg pigmentation rose linearly and significantly (P < 0.01) as the dietary levels of apo-ester increased, but this did not occur when MAR supplementation was used. The amount of β-carotene equivalents in whole liquid egg of MAR treatments was almost constant with varying pigment dietary dose and was significantly lower (P < 0.01) than in APO treatments. In both hen strains, whole liquid egg redness (a*) and yellowness (b*) were higher with APO supplementation. The egg component weights were highly affected (P < 0.01) by the hen strain, with yolk:egg ratio higher in the Hy-Line. The trial confirms that in spite of the higher level of MAR supplementation, APO has a better efficiency in whole liquid egg pigmentation. The ISA Brown hens showed a better ability to absorb dietary carotenoids than did the Hy-Line White.