Evidence is presented that the rate and equilibrium constants in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation set and maintain metabolic homeostasis in eukaryotic cells. These internal constants determine the energy state ([ATP]/[ADP][Pi]), and the energy state maintains homeostasis through a bidirectional sensory/signaling control network that reaches every aspect of cellular metabolism. The energy state is maintained with high precision (to ∼1 part in 10(10)), and the control system can respond to transient changes in energy demand (ATP utilization) of more than 100 times the resting rate. Epigenetic and environmental factors are able to "fine-tune" the programmed set point over a narrow range to meet the special needs associated with cell differentiation and chronic changes in metabolic requirements. The result is robust across-platform control of metabolism, which is essential to cellular differentiation and the evolution of complex organisms. A model of oxidative phosphorylation is presented, for which the steady-state rate expression has been derived and computer programmed. The behavior of oxidative phosphorylation predicted by the model is shown to fit the experimental data available for isolated mitochondria as well as for cells and tissues. This includes measurements from several different mammalian tissues as well as from insect flight muscle and plants. The respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation is remarkably similar for all higher plants and animals. This is consistent with the efficient synthesis of ATP and precise control of metabolic homeostasis provided by oxidative phosphorylation being a key to cellular differentiation and the evolution of structures with specialized function.