The integrity of healthy mitochondria is supposed to depend largely on proper mitochondrial protein biosynthesis. Mitochondrial ribosomal proteins (MRPs) are directly involved in this process. To identify mammalian mitochondrial ribosomal proteins and their corresponding genes, we purified mature rat MRPs and determined 12 different N-terminal amino acid sequences. Using this peptide information, data banks were screened for corresponding DNA sequences to identify the genes or to establish consensus cDNAs and to characterize the deduced MRP open reading frames. Eight different groups of corresponding mammalian MRPs constituted from human, mouse, and rat origin were identified. Five of them show significant sequence similarities to bacterial and/or yeast mitochondrial ribosomal proteins. However, MRPs are much less conserved in respect to the amino acid sequence among species than cytoplasmic ribosomal proteins of eukaryotes and bacteria.