A discontinuous electrophoretic system for the isolation of membrane proteins from acrylamide gels has been developed using equipment for sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Coomassie dyes were introduced to induce a charge shift on the proteins and aminocaproic acid served to improve solubilization of membrane proteins. Solubilized mitochondria or extracts of heart muscle tissue, lymphoblasts, yeast, and bacteria were applied to the gels. From cells containing mitochondria, all the multiprotein complexes of the oxidative phosphorylation system were separated within one gel. The complexes were resolved into the individual polypeptides by second-dimension Tricine-SDS-PAGE or extracted without SDS for functional studies. The recovery of all respiratory chain complexes was almost quantitative. The percentage recovery of functional activity depended on the respective protein complex studied and was zero for some complexes, but almost quantitative for others. The system is especially useful for small scale purposes, e.g., separation of radioactively labeled membrane proteins, N-terminal protein sequencing, preparation of proteins for immunization, and diagnostic studies of inborn neuromuscular diseases.