The synthetic precursor of the F(A)d subunit of mitochondrial ATP synthase was imported into isolated soybean cotyledon mitochondria. Import of the F(A)d precursor was accompanied by processing to a lower molecular weight mature form. The F(A)d precursor displayed the following import characteristics not seen before with plant mitochondria: efficient import in the absence of external ATP and import of wheat germ-translated precursor. Pretreatment of the F(A)d precursor with NEM did not inhibit import. Taken together with the lack of a requirement for external ATP, this indicates that this precursor does not require extramitochondrial ATP-dependent factors for import. Binding studies indicated that the F(A)d precursor bound to a proteinaceous component of the mitochondrial outer membrane. Inhibitor studies indicated that processing was most likely via the general mitochondrial processing peptidase. The results suggest that import of this subunit occurs via a pathway different from the general import pathway described for the majority of precursor proteins.