How the absence of the major mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier in yeast, Aac2p, results in a specific defect in cytochrome c oxidase (COX; complex IV) activity is a long-standing mystery. Aac2p physically associates with respiratory supercomplexes, which include complex IV, raising the possibility that its activity is dependent on its association with Aac2p. Here, we have leveraged a transport-dead pathogenic AAC2 point mutant to determine the basis for the reduced COX activity in the absence of Aac2p. The steady-state levels of complex IV subunits encoded by the mitochondrial genome are significantly reduced in the absence of Aac2p function, whether its association with respiratory supercomplexes is preserved or not. This diminution in COX amounts is not caused by a reduction in the mitochondrial genome copy number or the steady-state level of its transcripts, and does not reflect a defect in complex IV assembly. Instead, the absence of Aac2p activity, genetically or pharmacologically, results in an aberrant pattern of mitochondrial translation. Interestingly, compared with the complete absence of Aac2p, the complex IV-related defects are greater in mitochondria expressing the transport-inactive Aac2p mutant. Our results highlight a critical role for Aac2p transport in mitochondrial translation whose disturbance uniquely impacts cytochrome c oxidase.