Electron cryomicroscopy reveals an unprecedented conformation of the single-ring mutant of GroEL (SR398) bound to GroES in the presence of Mg-ATP. This conformation exhibits a considerable expansion of the folding cavity, with approximately 80% more volume than the X-ray structure of the equivalent cis cavity in the GroEL-GroES-(ADP)(7) complex. This expanded conformation can encapsulate an 86 kDa heterodimeric (alphabeta) assembly intermediate of mitochondrial branched-chain alpha-ketoacid dehydrogenase, the largest substrate ever observed to be cis encapsulated. The SR398-GroES-Mg-ATP complex is found to exist as a mixture of standard and expanded conformations, regardless of the absence or presence of the substrate. However, the presence of even a small substrate causes a pronounced bias toward the expanded conformation. Encapsulation of the large assembly intermediate is supported by a series of electron cryomicroscopy studies as well as the protection of both alpha and beta subunits of the substrate from tryptic digestion.