Developing yellow-seeded Brassica napus (rapeseed) with improved qualities is a major breeding goal. The intermediate and final metabolites of the phenylpropanoid and flavonoid pathways affect not only oil quality but also seed coat colour of B. napus. Here, the accumulation of phenolic compounds was analysed in the seed coats of black-seeded (ZY821) and yellow-seeded (GH06) B. napus. Using toluidine blue O staining and liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, histochemical and biochemical differences were identified in the accumulation of phenolic compounds between ZY821 and GH06. Two and 13 unique flavonol derivatives were detected in ZY821 and GH06, respectively. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis revealed significant differences between ZY821 and GH06 in the expression of common phenylpropanoid biosynthetic genes (BnPAL and BnC4H), common flavonoid biosynthetic genes (BnTT4 and BnTT6), anthocyanin- and proanthocyandin-specific genes (BnTT3 and BnTT18), proanthocyandin-specific genes (BnTT12, BnTT10, and BnUGT2) and three transcription factor genes (BnTTG1, BnTTG2, and BnTT8) that function in the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway. These data provide insight into pigment accumulation in B. napus, and serve as a useful resource for researchers analysing the formation of seed coat colour and the underlying regulatory mechanisms in B. napus.