Characterisation of the amount of protein import of the alternative oxidase (AOX) and the F(A)d precursor proteins (previously shown to use different import pathways) into mitochondria from developing soybean tissues indicated that they displayed different patterns. Import of the AOX declined in both cotyledon and root mitochondria with increasing age, whereas the import of the F(A)d into cotyledon mitochondria remained high throughout the same period. Using primary leaf mitochondria, it was evident that import of AOX remained high while it declined in cotyledon and root mitochondria. The amount of import of the AOX into mitochondria from different tissues closely matched the amount of the Tom 20 receptor. (C) 1999 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.