The PIF1 gene is involved in repair and recombination of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). In this study, the PIF1 gene product, which cannot be identified in normal yeast cells, has been overproduced from the GALI promoter to detectable protein levels. Location of PIF1 in mitochondria has been shown by immunoelectron microscopy and in vivo import experiments using ts mas1 mutants deficient in the mitochondrial matrix-localized processing protease. Overproduction of PIF1 protein in pif1 mutants restores mtDNA recombination proficiency but is toxic to yeast cells as observed by slower growth. The overproduced PIF1 protein, which is firmly associated with insoluble mitochondrial structures, has been partially purified in a mitochondrial nuclease deficient nuc1 strain by a procedure including solubilization by urea and renaturation by dialysis at alkaline pH. PIF1 is a single-stranded (ss) DNA-dependent ATPase and a DNA helicase which unwinds partially DNA duplexes in a 5' to 3' direction with respect to the ss DNA on which it binds first.