Proteolytic removal of amino-terminal octapeptides from mitochondrial intermediate proteins is a required step for a subgroup of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial precursors and is specifically catalyzed by mitochondrial intermediate peptidase (MIP). We recently reported the purification of MIP from rat liver and showed that the enzyme is a monomer of 75 kDa. We now report the sequence of a full-length rat MIP cDNA. This cDNA codes for a protein of 710 amino acids, including an amino-terminal mitochondrial leader peptide of 33 residues. The region surrounding the mature MIP amino terminus shows a cleavage site typically recognized by the general mitochondrial processing peptidase (MPP). In vitro synthesized MIP precursor is cleaved to mature MIP by purified MPP, and thus MIP is not required for its own proteolytic maturation. Comparison of the deduced MIP sequence with other sequences in the GenBank data base reveals two important similarities. The first is to a sequence encoding a putative MIP homologue in the recently reported sequence of yeast chromosome III. The putative yeast protein is predicted to be 712 amino acids long and includes a putative 23-residue mitochondrial leader peptide also with a MPP processing site. It shows 47% similarity and 24% identity to rat MIP. The second similarity is to members of a subfamily of metallopeptidases that includes rat metalloendopeptidase EC 18.104.22.168 and two bacterial proteases, oligopeptidase A and dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase. A region of greater than 50% similarity over 400 residues between MIP and these proteins is centered around the sequence motif HEXXH, typical of zinc metallopeptidases.