The mitochondrial (mt) genomes of rye (Secale cereale L.) lines with “normal” and cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) inducing “Pampa” cytoplasm were compared by detailed restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and Northern analyses. RFLP analyses using several heterologous mt genes as probes revealed considerable differences in the overall structure of the two mt genomes. With cob and atpA, the data indicate intragenic recombination and/or different copy numbers of these genes in the two cytoplasms. In spite of this heterogeneity at DNA level, the transcriptional patterns of nine out of ten mitochondrial genes analysed are unaffected. The exception is in the “Pampa” cytoplasm which contains an additional cob-homologous transcript. Since this transcript is strongly reduced in the presence of restorer genes, it might causally be correlated to the CMS phenotype.