A new member of the dynamin GTPase family (OPA1) was recently identified in humans and shown to be mutated in patients with dominant optic atrophy. To understand better the function of mammalian OPA1, we isolated a mouse ortholog (mOPA1) from brain and raised a specific antibody against its C terminus. The subcellular distribution of mOPA1 overexpressed in COS-7 cells largely overlapped that of endogenous cytochrome c, a well known mitochondrial marker, and dramatically affected mitochondrial morphology, altering it from tubular to vesicular. Mitochondrial targeting was mediated by the N-terminal region of mOPA1 as follows: deletion of the 124 N-terminal amino acids eliminated mitochondrial targeting, although fusion of the N-terminal 60 or 90 amino acids of mOPA1 with green fluorescent protein resulted in its mitochondrial targeting. mOPA1 was expressed widely in the mouse brain, especially in neurons of olfactory bulb, cerebral cortex, piriform cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus, red nucleus, cochlear nucleus, motor trigeminal nucleus, facial nucleus, cerebellar nucleus, and Purkinje cells. Within dissociated cerebellar cells, mOPA1 protein was clearly observed in the dendrites and somas of neuronal cells, as well as in astrocytes and meningeal cells. In each case, it was distributed in the vesicular pattern seen in other cell types.