In the last few years the presence in thylakoid membranes of chloroplasts of a NAD(P)H-plastoquinone oxidoreductase complex (Ndh complex) homologous to mitochondrial complex I has been well established. Herein, we report the identification of the Ndh complex in barley etioplast membranes. Two plastid DNA-encoded polypeptides of the Ndh complex (NDH-A and NDH-F) were relatively more abundant in etioplast membranes than in thylakoids from greening chloroplasts. Conversion of etioplast into chloroplast, after light exposure of barley seedlings grown in the dark, was accompanied by a decrease in the NADH dehydrogenase activity associated to plastid membranes. Using native-PAGE and immunolabelling techniques we have determined that a NADH specific dehydrogenase activity associated with plastid membranes, which was more active in etioplasts than in greening chloroplasts, contained the NDH-A and NDH-F polypeptides. These results complemented by those obtained through blue-native-PAGE indicated that NDH-A and NDH-F polypeptides are part of a 580 kDa NADH dependent dehydrogenase complex present in etioplast membranes. This finding proves that accumulation of the Ndh complex is independent of light. The decrease in the relative levels and specific activity of this complex during the transition from etioplast to chloroplasts was accompanied by a parallel decrease in the specific activity of peroxidase associated to plastid membranes. Based on the mentioned observations it is proposed that an electron transport chain from NADH to H2O2 could be active in barley etioplasts.