Abstract The mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) proteins are encoded by both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. The nuclear-encoded OXPHOS mRNAs have specific subcellular localizations, but little is known about which localize near mitochondria. Here, we compared mRNAs in mitochondria-bound polysome fractions with those in cytosolic, free polysome fractions. mRNAs encoding hydrophobic OXPHOS proteins, which insert into the inner membrane, were localized near mitochondria. Conversely, OXPHOS gene which mRNAs were predominantly localized in cytosol had less than one transmembrane domain. The RNA-binding protein Y-box binding protein-1 is localized at the mitochondrial outer membrane and bound to the OXPHOS mRNAs. Our findings offer new insight into mitochondrial co-translational import in human cells.