Cytochrome c1 is a component of the mitochondrial respiratory chain in most eukaryotes. The protein is coded by nuclear DNA, synthesized as a larger precursor outside the mitochondria and then cleaved to the mature form in two successive steps during its import into the mitochondria. We have cloned the structural gene for yeast cytochrome c1 by functional complementation of a cytochrome c1-deficient yeast mutant with a yeast genomic library in the yeast-Escherichia coli 'shuttle' vector YEp 13. The complete nucleotide sequence of the gene and of its 5'- and 3'-flanking regions was determined. The deduced amino acid sequence of the yeast cytochrome c1 precursor reveals an unusually long transient amino-terminal presequence of 61 amino acids. This presequence consists of a strongly basic amino-terminal region of 35 amino acids, a central region of 19 uncharged amino acids and an acidic carboxy-terminal region of seven amino acids. This tripartite structure of the presequence resembles that of the precursor of cytochrome c peroxidase and supports a previous suggestion on the import pathways of these two precursors.