A class of nuclear genes termed "restorers of fertility" (Rf) acts to suppress the expression of abnormal mitochondrial genes associated with cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS). In petunia, both the nuclear Rf gene and mitochondrial CMS-associated gene have previously been identified. The CMS-associated gene is an aberrant chimera in which portions of several mitochondrially encoded genes are fused to an unknown reading frame. The dominant Rf allele reduces the CMS-associated protein to nearly undetectable levels and alters the RNA population derived from the CMS locus, but its mechanism of action has not been determined. The petuniaRf gene is a member of the pentatricopeptide repeat gene family (PPR), an unusually large gene family in Arabidopsis (approximately 450 genes) compared with yeast (five genes) and mammalian genomes (six genes). The PPR gene family has been implicated in the control of organelle gene expression. To gain insight into the mode of action of PPR genes, we generated transgenic petunia plants expressing a functional tagged version of Rf. Analysis of the restorer protein revealed that it is part of a soluble mitochondrial inner-membrane-associated, RNase-sensitive high-molecular-weight protein complex. The complex is associated with mRNA derived from the CMS locus.