Male Length(Forewing/wingspan): 45/80 mm.
Head either pink or black. Forewing: Upperside and underside forewing black, broadly creamy white along the veins, giving the forewing a striped appearance; underside forewing. Hindwings: Upperside and underside hindwing black with conspicuous red submarginal spots and a short white band consisting of creamy white spots in space 1c to 4 and top of cell, separated by black aveins.
Female Length(Forewing/wingspan) 50/90 mm. Similar to male, but larger and forewing more rounded, and the creamy white color is white, more or less dusted with black.
Variable in extent and tinge of wing patters. More than 30 subspecies have been recognised by some authors, (some are represented among this species) but differences are small and there is much overlap; possibly only a few "real" subspecies will survive a severe scrutiny.
Similar species Almost certainly a model for several mimics, including male Cressida cressida, female Papilio ambrax and female Papilio phestus, but wing pattern, especially of the hindwing, is different. The red abdominal markings, always present in P. polydorus, are always absent in Papilio.