Mitochondrial targeting of an Atp2-LacZ fusion protein confers a respiration-defective phenotype on yeast cells. This effect has been utilized to select strains that grow on nonfermentable carbon sources, some of which have decreased levels of hybrid protein localized to the organelle. Many of the mutants obtained were also temperature-sensitive for growth on all media. The recessive mft (mitochondrial fusion targeting) mutants have been assigned to three complementation groups. MFT1 was cloned and sequenced: it encodes a 255 amino acid protein that is highly basic and has no predicted membrane-spanning domains or organelle-targeting sequences. The MFT1 gene is 91% identical to an open reading frame 3′ of the SIR3 gene. Evidence is presented that these two closely related genes could represent a recent gene duplication. © 1991 Springer-Verlag.