H+-ATP synthase is the dominant ATP production site in mitochondria and chloroplasts. So far, dimerization of ATP synthase has been observed only in mitochondria by biochemical and electron microscopic investigations. Although the physiological relevance remains still enigmatic, dimerization was proposed to be a unique feature of the mitochondrion [Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1555 (2002) 154]. It is hard to imagine, however, that closely related protein complexes of mitochondria and chloroplast should show such severe differences in structural organization. We present the first evidences for dimerization of chloroplast ATP synthases within the thylakoid membrane. By investigation of the thylakoid membrane of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii by blue-native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, dimerization of the chloroplast ATP synthase was detected. Chloroplast ATP synthase dimer dissociates into monomers upon incubation with vanadate or phosphate but not by incubation with molybdate, while the mitochondrial dimer is not affected by the incubation. This suggests a distinct dimerization mechanism for mitochondrial and chloroplast ATP synthase. Since vanadate and phosphate bind to the active sites, contact sites located on the hydrophilic CF1 part are suggested for the chloroplast ATP synthase dimer. As the degree of dimerization varies with phosphate concentration, dimerization might be a response to low phosphate concentrations.