This review article is concerned with two on-going research projects in our laboratory, both of which are related to the study of the NADH dehydrogenase enzyme complexes in the respiratory chain. The goal of the first project is to decipher the structure and mechanism of action of the proton-translocating NADH-quinone oxidoreductase (NDH-1) from two bacteria, Paracoccus denitrificans and Thermus thermophilus HB-8. These microorganisms are of particular interest because of the close resemblance of the former (P. denitrificans) to a mammalian mitochondria, and because of the thermostability of the enzymes of the latter (T. thermophilus). The NDH-1 enzyme complex of these and other bacteria is composed of 13 to 14 unlike subunits and has a relatively simple structure relative to the mitochondrial proton-translocating NADH-quinone oxidoreductase (complex I), which is composed of at least 42 different subunits. Therefore, the bacterial NDH-I is believed to be a useful model for studying the mitochondrial complex I, which is understood to have the most intricate structure of all the membrane-associated enzyme complexes. Recently, the study of the NADH dehydrogenase complex has taken on new urgency as a result of reports that complex I defects are involved in many human mitochondrial diseases. Thus the goal of the second project is to develop possible gene therapies for mitochondrial diseases caused by complex I defects. This project involves attempting to repair complex I defects in the mammalian system using Saccharomyces cerevisiae NDI1 genes, which code for the internal, rotenone-insensitive NADH-quinone oxidoreductase. In this review, we will discuss our progress and the data generated by these two projects to date. In addition, background information and the significance of various approaches employed to pursue these research objectives will be described.