External NADH and succinate were oxidized at similar rates by soybean (Glycine max) cotyledon and leaf mitochondria when the cytochrome chain was operating, but the rate of NADH oxidation via the alternative oxidase was only half that of succinate. However, measurements of the redox poise of the endogenous quinone pool and reduction of added quinones revealed that external NADH reduced them to the same, or greater, extent than did succinate. A kinetic analysis of the relationship between alternative oxidase activity and the redox state of ubiquinone indicated that the degree of ubiquinone reduction during external NADH oxidation was sufficient to fully engage the alternative oxidase. Measurements of NADH oxidation in the presence of succinate showed that the two substrates competed for cytochrome chain activity but not for alternative oxidase activity. Both reduced Q-1 and duroquinone were readily oxidized by the cytochrome oxidase pathway but only slowly by the alternative oxidase pathway in soybean mitochondria. In mitochondria isolated from the thermogenic spadix of Philodendron selloum, on the other hand, quinol oxidation via the alternative oxidase was relatively rapid; in these mitochondria, external NADH was also oxidized readily by the alternative oxidase. Antibodies raised against alternative oxidase proteins from Sauromatum guttatum cross-reacted with proteins of similar molecular size from soybean mitochondria, indicating similarities between the two alternative oxidases. However, it appears that the organization of the respiratory chain in soybean is different, and we suggest that some segregation of electron transport chain components may exist in mitochondria from nonthermogenic plant tissues.