The initiation of transcription of the yeast mitochondrial genes coding for subunit I of cytochrome c oxidase (COX1) and for tRNA1Thr has been examined. COX1 messenger RNA synthesis is initiated in a conserved nonanucleotide sequenne (ATATAAGTA) which we have previously found immediately upstream of riboaomal RNA genes at positions at which RNA synthesis starts. The 5′-end of the precursor of tRNA1Thr is located in a variant nonanucleotide motif (TTATAAGTA), which may be characteristic for tRNA genes. Using a partially purified fraction of mtRNA polymerase, we demonstrate that RNA synthesis is precisely initiated in vitro in nonanucleotide sequences preceding both ribosomol RNA-, tRNA- and messenger RNA-encoding genes and origins of replication.