Loss of mtDNA by the petite-negative yeast Kluyveromyces lactis is lethal (rho(o)-lethality). However, mutations in the alpha, beta and gamma subunits of F(1)-ATPase can suppress lethality by increasing intramitochondrial hydrolysis of ATP. Increased hydrolysis of ATP can also occur on inactivation of Inh1, the natural inhibitor of F(1)-ATPase. However, not all strains of K. lactis show suppression of rho(o)-lethality on inactivation of INH1. Genetic analysis indicates that one or more alleles of modifying factors are required for suppression. Papillae showing enhanced resistance to ethidium bromide (EB) in INH1 disruptants have mutations in the alpha, beta and gamma subunits of F(1)-ATPase. Increased growth of double mutants on EB has been investigated by disruption of INH1 in previously characterized atp suppressor mutants. Inactivation of Inh1, with one exception, results in better growth on EB and increased F(1)-ATPase activity, indicating that suppression of rho(o)-lethality is not due to atp mutations preventing Inh1 from interacting with the F(1)-complex. By contrast, in suppressor mutants altered in Arg435 of the beta subunit, disruption of INH1 did not change the kinetic properties of F(1)-ATPase or alter growth on EB. Consequently, Arg435 appears to be required for interaction of Inh1 with the beta subunit. In a previous study, a mex1-1 allele was found to enhance mgi(atp) expression. In accord with results from double mutants, it has been found that mex1-1 is a frameshift mutation in INH1 causing inactivation of Inh1p.