Cytochrome b is the central redox catalytic subunit of the quinol: cytochrome c or plastocyanin oxidoreductases. It is involved in the binding of the quinone substrate and it is responsible for the transmembrane electron transfer by which redox energy is converted into a protonmotive force. Cytochrome b also contains the sites to which various inhibitors and quinone antagonists bind and, consequently, inhibit the oxidoreductase. Ten partial primary sequences of cytochrome b are presented here and they are compared with sequence data from over 800 species for a detailed analysis of the natural variation in the protein. This sequence information has been used to predict some aspects of the structure of the protein, in particular the folding of the transmembrane helices and the location of the quinone- and heme-binding pockets. We have observed that inhibitor sensitivity varies greatly among species. The comparison of inhibition titrations in combination with the analysis of the primary structures has enabled us to identify amino acid residues in cytochrome b that may be involved in the binding of the inhibitors and, by extrapolation, quinone/quinol. The information on the quinone-binding sites obtained in this way is expected to be both complementary and supplementary to that which will be obtained in the future by mutagenesis and X-ray crystallography.