Two Arabidopsis Toc34 homologues, atToc34 and atToc33, components of the chloroplast protein import machinery located in the outer envelope membrane, were recently isolated. Both proteins insert into the outer envelope, are supposed to bind GTP and to interact with Toc75 as demonstrated by in vitro import assays. We studied the expression of the two genes by RNA gel blot analysis, promoter-GUS plants and in situ hybridisations as well as immunoblot analysis. The atToc34 and atToc33 genes are expressed in green as well as non-green tissues and are developmentally regulated. Despite these similarities, however, the two Arabidopsis Toc34 homologues are differentially expressed in various plant organs. To gain more insight into the in vivo function of both proteins, antisense plants were created. While antisense plants of atToc33 are characterized by a pale yellowish phenotype, antisense plants of atToc34 show a weaker phenotype. Protein interaction studies using an in vitro translated precursor protein and heterologously expressed atToc34 and atToc33 proteins showed a direct GTP-dependent interaction, but demonstrated different affinities of the two atToc proteins towards the precursor protein. Thus, our results indicate a more specialized function for both atToc34 and atToc33, suggesting specificity for certain imported precursor proteins.