Tobacco is a valuable model system for investigating the origin of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in amphidiploid plants and studying the genetic interaction between mitochondria and chloroplasts in the various functions of the plant cell. As a first step, we have determined the complete mtDNA sequence of Nicotiana tabacum. The mtDNA of N. tabacum can be assumed to be a master circle (MC) of 430,597 bp. Sequence comparison of a large number of clones revealed that there are four classes of boundaries derived from homologous recombination, which leads to a multipartite organization with two MCs and six subgenomic circles. The mtDNA of N. tabacum contains 36 protein-coding genes, three ribosomal RNA genes and 21 tRNA genes. Among the first class, we identified the genes rps1 and psirps14, which had previously been thought to be absent in tobacco mtDNA on the basis of Southern analysis. Tobacco mtDNA was compared with those of Arabidopsis thaliana, Beta vulgaris, Oryza sativa and Brassica napus. Since repeated sequences show no homology to each other among the five angiosperms, it can be supposed that these were independently acquired by each species during the evolution of angiosperms. The gene order and the sequences of intergenic spacers in mtDNA also differ widely among the five angiosperms, indicating multiple reorganizations of genome structure during the evolution of higher plants. Among the conserved genes, the same potential conserved nonanucleotide-motif-type promoter could only be postulated for rrn18-rrn5 in four of the dicotyledonous plants, suggesting that a coding sequence does not necessarily move with the promoter upon reorganization of the mitochondrial genome.