The Casein lytic proteinase/heat shock protein 100 (Clp/Hsp100) proteins are chaperones that act to remodel/disassemble protein complexes and/or aggregates using the energy of ATP. In plants, one of the best-studied proteins from this family is cytosolic ClpB1 (At1g74310), better known in Arabidopsis as AtHsp101, which is a heat shock protein required for acclimation to high temperatures. Three other ClpB homologues have been identified in the Arabidopsis genome (ClpB2, ClpB3 and ClpB4; At4g14670, At5g15450 and At2g25140). To define further the roles of these chaperones in plants we investigated their intracellular localization, evolutionary relationships, patterns of expression and the phenotypes of corresponding T-DNA insertion mutants. We first found that ClpB2 was misannotated; there is no functional ClpB/Hsp100 gene at this locus. By fusing the putative transit peptides of ClpB3 and ClpB4 with GFP, we showed that these proteins are targeted to the chloroplast and mitochondrion, respectively, and we therefore designated them as ClpB-p and ClpB-m. Phylogenetic analysis supports two major lineages of ClpB proteins in plants, an 'eukaryotic', cytosol/nuclear-localized group containing AtHsp101, and an organelle-localized lineage, containing both ClpB-p and ClpB-m. Although AtHsp101, ClpB-p and ClpB-m transcripts all accumulate dramatically at high temperatures, the T-DNA insertion mutants of ClpB-p and ClpB-m show no evidence of seedling heat stress phenotypes similar to those observed in AtHsp101 mutants. Strikingly, ClpB-p knockouts were seedling lethals, failing to accumulate chlorophyll or properly develop chloroplasts. Thus, in plants, the function of ClpB/Hsp100 proteins is not restricted to heat stress, but a specific member of the family provides housekeeping functions that are essential to chloroplast development.