Liver mitochondria from rats fed ethanol chronically demonstrate an impaired ability to incorporate [35S]methionine into polypeptide products in vitro. This ethanol-induced effect on mitochondrial translation in vitro could not be attributed to significant differences in the methionine precursor pool sizes of ethanol and control mitochondria or to the acute effects of residual ethanol. The observed reduction of radiolabeled methionine incorporation into mitochondrial gene products of ethanol mitochondria in vitro reflects a decrease in the synthesis of all the mitochondrial gene products. However, the percentage of total radiolabel incorporated into each gene product is unaffected by ethanol, suggesting an ethanol-induced coordinate depression of mitochondrial protein synthesis. Moreover, SDS-PAGE and densitometry of submitochondrial particles from ethanol-fed and control rats demonstrated that the steady-state concentration of each of the mitochondrial gene products is decreased in ethanol-fed rats. This reduction of the steady-state concentration of the mitochondrial gene products may be related to the observed depressions of oxidative phosphorylation activities associated with hepatic mitochondria from ethanol-fed rats.