A cytotoxic product of lipid peroxidation, 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE), rapidly inhibited glycine, malate/pyruvate, and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent O2 consumption by pea leaf mitochondria. Dose- and time-dependence of inhibition showed that glycine oxidation was the most severely affected with a K(0.5) of 30 microm. Several mitochondrial proteins containing lipoic acid moieties differentially lost their reactivity to a lipoic acid antibody following HNE treatment. The most dramatic loss of antigenicity was seen with the 17-kDa glycine decarboxylase complex (GDC) H-protein, which was correlated with the loss of glycine-dependent O2 consumption. Paraquat treatment of pea seedlings induced lipid peroxidation, which resulted in the rapid loss of glycine-dependent respiration and loss of H-protein reactivity with lipoic acid antibodies. Pea plants exposed to chilling and water deficit responded similarly. In contrast, the damage to other lipoic acid-containing mitochondrial enzymes was minor under these conditions. The implication of the acute sensitivity of glycine decarboxylase complex H-protein to lipid peroxidation products is discussed in the context of photorespiration and potential repair mechanisms in plant mitochondria.