The precursors of the F1-ATPase beta-subunits from Nicotiana plumbaginifolia and Neurospora crassa were imported into isolated spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) leaf mitochondria. Both F1 beta precursors were imported and processed to mature size products. No import of the mitochondrial precursor proteins into isolated intact spinach chloroplasts was seen. Moreover, the precursor of the 33 kDa protein of photosynthetic water-splitting enzyme was not imported into the leaf mitochondria. This study provides the first experimental report of in vitro import of precursor proteins into plant mitochondria isolated from photosynthetic tissue and enables studies of protein sorting between mitochondria and chloroplasts in a system which is homologous with respect to organelles. The results suggest a high organellar specificity in the plant cell for the cytoplasmically synthesized precursor proteins.