Carotenoids play the dual function of light harvesting and photoprotection in photosynthetic organisms. Despite their functional importance, the molecular basis for binding of carotenoids in the photosynthetic proteins is poorly understood. We have discovered that all carotenoids are surrounded either by aromatic residues or by chlorophylls in all known crystal structures of the photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes. The intermolecular pi-pi stacking interactions between carotenoids and the surrounding aromatic residues in the light-harvesting complex II (LH-II) of Rhodospirillum molischianum were analyzed by high level ab initio electronic structure calculations. Intermolecular interaction energies were calculated with the second-order Møller-Plesset perturbation method (MP2) using the modified 6-31G*(0.25) basis set with diffuse d-polarization by Hobza and co-workers. The MP2/6-31G*(0.25) calculations yield a total stabilization energy of -15.66 kcal/mol between the carotenoid molecule and the four surrounding aromatic residues (alpha-Trp-23, beta-Phe-20, beta-Phe-24, beta-Phe-27). It is thus concluded that pi-pi stacking interactions between carotenoids and the aromatic residues play an essential role in binding carotenoids in the LH-II complex of Rhodospirillum molischianum. The physical nature of the pi-pi stacking interactions was further analyzed, and the dispersion interactions were found to be the dominant intermolecular attraction force. There is also a substantial electrostatic contribution to the overall intermolecular stabilization energy.