A mitochondrial gene from Saccharomyces cerevisiae encoding a hydrophobic membrane protein, subunit 8 of the F0/F1-type mitochondrial ATPase complex, has been functionally replaced by an artificial nuclear gene specifying an imported version of this protein. The experiments reported here utilized a multicopy expression vector (pLF1) that replicates in the nucleus of yeast cells and that carries an inserted DNA segment, specifying a precursor protein (N9/Y8) consisting of subunit 8 fused to an N-terminal cleavable transit peptide (the leader sequence from Neurospora crassa ATPase subunit 9). The successful incorporation of the imported subunit 8 into functional ATPase complexes after transformation with pLF1 expressing N9/Y8 was indicated by the efficient genetic complementation of respiratory growth defects of aap1 mit- mutants, which lack endogenous subunit 8. The reconstitution of ATPase function was confirmed by biochemical assays of ATPase performance in mitochondria and by immunochemical analyses that demonstrated the assembly of the cytoplasmically synthesized subunit 8 into the ATPase complex. Reconstitution of ATPase function required the cytoplasmically synthesized subunit to have a transit peptide. The strategy for importation and reconstitution developed for subunit 8 leads to a systematic approach to the directed manipulation of mitochondrially encoded membrane-associated proteins that has general implications for exploring membrane biogenesis mechanistically and evolutionarily.