Mitochondrial chaperonins are necessary for the folding of newly imported and stress-denatured mitochondrial proteins. The goal of this study was to investigate the structure and function of the mammalian mitochondrial chaperonin system. We present evidence that the 60 kDa chaperonin (mt-cpn60) exists in solution in dynamic equilibrium between monomers, heptameric single rings and double-ringed tetradecamers. In the presence of ATP and the 10 kDa cochaperonin (mt-cpn10), the formation of a double ring is favored. ADP at very high concentrations does not inhibit malate dehydrogenase refolding or ATP hydrolysis by mt-cpn60 in the presence of mt-cpn10. We propose that the cis (mt-cpn60)14.nucleotide.(mt-cpn10)7 complex is not a stable species and does not bind ADP effectively at its trans binding site.