An alternative strategy for mitochondrial proteomics is described that is complementary to previous investigations using 2D PAGE techniques. The strategy involves (a) obtaining highly purified preparations of human heart mitochondria using metrizamide gradients to remove cytosolic and other subcellular contaminant proteins; (b) separation of mitochondrial protein complexes using sucrose density gradients after solubilization with n-dodecyl-beta-D-maltoside; (c) 1D electrophoresis of the sucrose gradient fractions; (d) high-throughput proteomics using robotic gel band excision, in-gel digestion, MALDI target spotting and automated spectral acquisition; and (e) protein identification from mixtures of tryptic peptides by high-precision peptide mass fingerprinting. Using this approach, we rapidly identified 82 bona fide or potential mitochondrial proteins, 40 of which have not been previously reported using 2D PAGE techniques. These proteins include small complex I and complex IV subunits, as well as very basic and hydrophobic transmembrane proteins such as the adenine nucleotide translocase that are not recovered in 2D gels. The technique described here should also be useful for the identification of new protein-protein associations as exemplified by the validation of a recently discovered complex that involves proteins belonging to the prohibitin family.