The physiological role of mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALD5) was investigated by analysis of the ald5 mutant (AKD321) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. K(+)-activated ALDH activity of the ald5 mutant was about 80% of the wild-type in the mitochondrial fraction, while the respiratory activity of the ald5 mutant was greatly reduced. Cytochrome content was also reduced in the ald5 mutant. Enzymatic analysis revealed that the alcohol dehydrogenase activity of the ald5 mutant was higher than that of the wild-type, while glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase activity was the same in the two strains. Ethanol as a carbon source or addition of 1 M NaCl with glucose as the carbon source in the growth medium increased beta-galactosidase activity from an ALD5-lacZ fusion. Overexpression of another mitochondrial ALDH gene (ALD7) had no effect on increasing respiratory function of the ald5 mutant, but showed improved growth on ethanol. These observations show that mitochondrial ALD5 plays a role in regulation or biosynthesis of electron transport chain components.