The nuclear PET309 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is necessary for expression of the mitochondrial COX1 gene, which encodes subunit I of cytochrome c oxidase. In a pet309 null mutant, there is a defect both in accumulation of COX1 pre-RNA, if it contains introns, and in translation of COX1 RNAs [Manthey, G. M. & McEwen, J. E. (1995) EMBO J. 14, 4031-4043]. To facilitate identification and intracellular localization of the protein Pet309p, that is encoded by the PET309 gene, Pet309p was tagged at the carboxy terminus with an epitope from the human c-myc protein. A monoclonal antibody against the c-myc epitope detected a 98-kDa protein in mitochondria of yeast cells that expressed the PET309-c-myc fusion protein from a high copy number plasmid. This protein was not detectable in cells that did not express the fusion protein, or that expressed it from a single copy centromeric vector. Additional analyses of mitochondrial subfractions demonstrated that the PET309-c-myc fusion protein is localized specifically in the inner mitochondrial membrane. It could not be extracted by alkaline sodium carbonate, yet it was susceptible to proteinase K digestion in mitoplasts (mitochondria with a disrupted outer membrane). These results indicate that Pet309p spans the inner membrane, with domain(s) exposed to the intermembrane space side of the membrane. How Pet309p may function in concert with other gene products necessary for COX1 RNA translation or accumulation, such as Mss51p or Nam1p, respectively, is discussed.