The nuclear gene for mitochondrial ribosomal protein YmL9 (MRP-L9) of yeast has been cloned and sequenced. The deduced amino acid sequence characterizes YmL9 as a basic (net charge + 30) protein of 27.5 kDa with a putative signal peptide for mitochondrial import of 19 amino acid residues. The intact MRP-L9 gene is essential for mitochondrial function and is located on chromosome XV or VII. YmL9 shows significant sequence similarities to Escherichia coli ribosomal protein L3 and related proteins from various organisms of all three natural kingdoms as well as photosynthetic organelles (cyanelles). The observed structural conservation is located mostly in the C-terminal half and is independent of the intracellular location of the corresponding genes [Graack, H.-R., Grohmann, L. & Kitakawa, M. (1990) Biol. Chem. Hoppe Seyler 371, 787-788]. YmL9 shows the highest degree of sequence similarity to its eubacterial and cyanelle homologues and is less related to the archaebacterial or eukaryotic cytoplasmic ribosomal proteins. Due to their high sequence similarity to the YmL9 protein two mammalian cytoplasmic ribosomal proteins [MRL3 human and rat; Ou, J.-H., Yen, T. S. B., Wang, Y.-F., Kam, W. K. & Rutter, W. J. (1987) Nucleic Acids Res. 15, 8919-8934] are postulated to be true nucleus-encoded mitochondrial ribosomal proteins.