Mitochondrial complex I deficiency is the most prevalent and least understood disorder of the oxidative phosphorylation system. The genetic cause of many cases of isolated complex I deficiency is unknown because of insufficient understanding of the complex I assembly process and the factors involved. We performed homozygosity mapping and gene sequencing to identify the genetic defect in five complex I-deficient patients from three different families. All patients harbored mutations in the NDUFAF3 (C3ORF60) gene, of which the pathogenic nature was assessed by NDUFAF3-GFP baculovirus complementation in fibroblasts. We found that NDUFAF3 is a genuine mitochondrial complex I assembly protein that interacts with complex I subunits. Furthermore, we show that NDUFAF3 tightly interacts with NDUFAF4 (C6ORF66), a protein previously implicated in complex I deficiency. Additional gene conservation analysis links NDUFAF3 to bacterial-membrane-insertion gene cluster SecF/SecD/YajC and to C8ORF38, also implicated in complex I deficiency. These data not only show that NDUFAF3 mutations cause complex I deficiency but also relate different complex I disease genes by the close cooperation of their encoded proteins during the assembly process.