Heterologous production of a useful carotenoid astaxanthin was achieved in a cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 with the aid of marine bacterial genes. Astaxanthin and its intermediates emerged at high levels, whereas β-carotene and zeaxanthin disappeared in the strain. Total carotenoid accumulation was nearly two fold compared with wild type. The astaxanthin-producing strain was capable of only growing heterotrophically, which was likely due to the absence of β-carotene. Further enhanced accumulation was pursued by gene overexpression for possible rate-limiting steps in the biosynthesis pathway.