Lipoic acid is a coenzyme essential to the activity of enzymes such as pyruvate dehydrogenase, which play important roles in central metabolism. However, neither the enzymes responsible for biosynthesis nor the biosynthetic event of lipoic acid has been reported in mammalian cells. In this study, a mouse mLIP1 cDNA for lipoic acid synthase has been identified. We have shown that the cDNA encodes a lipoic acid synthase by its ability to complement a mutant of Escherichia coli defective in lipoic acid synthase and that mLIP1 is targeted into the mitochondria. These findings suggest that mammalian cells are able to synthesize lipoic acid in mitochondria.