With the average target-date fund down 17% in 2008, investors might think twice about what has been one of the best-selling fund categories of the past few years, MarketWatch reports.

The riskiest target-date funds fell right in step with the overall market, giving up an average 39.8% of assets. And not a single one of the 264 target-date funds on the market had a positive return, according to Ibbotson. In total, declines ranged from 3.6% to 44.5%.

Performance was especially disturbing for those target-date funds for those about to retire. Of the 31 funds targeted to 2010 as a retirement date, losses ranged from 3.5% to 41.3%.

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.