Botryococcus-derived alginites from the Westphalian Skyline, No. 5 Block, Leatherwood (eastern Kentucky) and Breckinridge (western Kentucky) coal beds have been analyzed for elemental composition and functional group distribution using an electron microprobe and micro-FTIR, respectively. The alginites from Kentucky show a carbon range of 81.6 to 92% and oxygen content of 3.5 to 9.5%. Sulphur content ranges from 0.66 to 0.84% and Fe, Si, Al and Ca occur in minor quantities. FTIR analysis demonstrates dominant CH2, CH3 bands and subordinate aromatic carbon in all alginites. The major differences between alginites are in the ratios of CH2 and CH3 groups and ratios between aromatic bands in the out-of-plane region. These differences suggest that, although the ancient Botryococcus derives from a selective preservation of a resistant polymer, it undergoes molecular and some elemental changes through the rank equivalent to vitrinite reflectance of 0.5-0.85%. Other differences, such as intensities of ether bridges and those of carboxyl/carbonyl groups, are attributed to differences in depositional environments.