This study evaluated the effect of Echinacea purpurea extract in drinking water on the growth, slaughter performance and meat quality of broilers. 500 1-day-old broilers were randomly assigned to I) water only, II) 200 mg/L-Astragalus polysaccharide, and III) to V) 100, 200, 600 mg/L-E. purpurea extract, respectively. E. purpurea enhanced average-daily-gain, evisceration-yield rates, the thigh muscle percentages, but reduced feed-to-gain ratios. Percentage of breast muscle was highest (P<0.05) in group IV. At 21-d, E. purpurea increased the lightness (L*) and redness (a*) of breast muscle. At 42-d, the L* of breast muscle was less (P<0.05) in group V than in group II, yellowness (b*) was less (P<0.05) in group V compared with groups II, III and IV, while the a* of thigh muscle was greater in group V (P<0.05) than in groups III and IV. Dry matter content was greater (P<0.05) in group IV than in group I. The drip loss rate of group IV was lower (P<0.05) than groups I and V, and greater (P<0.05) in group V than in group II. E. purpurea (200 mg/L) can be natural alternative additives in drinking water to improve broiler production and meat quality.