The nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the region coding for the 3' end of the large rRNA has been determined for two human cell lines bearing independent cytoplasmic chloramphenicol-resistant (CAP-r) mutations. Comparison of the sequences of these two phenotypically different CAP-r mutants with their CAP-sensitive (CAP-s) parental cell lines has revealed a single base change for each in a region which is highly conserved among species. One CAP-r mutation is associated with an A to G transition on the coding strand while the second contains a G to T transversion 52 nucleotides away. Comparable sequence changes in this region had previously been found for mouse and yeast cell mitochondrial CAP-r mutants. Thus, changes in the large rRNA gene eliminate the inhibition of the ribosome by CAP and different nucleotide changes may result in variations in the drug-r phenotype.