Mitochondrial leucyl-tRNA synthetase (LeuRS) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae provides two essential functions. In addition to aminoacylation, LeuRS functions in RNA splicing. The details of how it came to act in splicing are not known. Here we show that Mycobacterium tuberculosis and human mitochondrial LeuRSs can substitute in splicing for the S. cerevisiae mitochondrial LeuRS. Mutations of yeast mitochondrial LeuRS that had previously been shown to abolish splicing activity also eliminate splicing by the M. tuberculosis enzyme. These results suggest the role of LeuRS in splicing in yeast mitochondria results from features of the enzyme that are broadly conserved in evolution. These features are not likely to be designed for splicing per se, but instead have been adopted in yeast for that purpose.