Translocation of mitochondrial precursor proteins across the mitochondrial outer membrane is facilitated by the translocase of the outer membrane (TOM) complex. By using site-specific photocrosslinking, we have mapped interactions between TOM proteins and a mitochondrial precursor protein arrested at two distinct stages, stage A (accumulated at 0 degrees C) and stage B (accumulated at 30 degrees C), in the translocation across the outer membrane at high resolution not achieved previously. Although the stage A and stage B intermediates were assigned previously to the forms bound to the cis site and the trans site of the TOM complex, respectively, the results of crosslinking indicate that the presequence of the intermediates at both stage A and stage B is already on the trans side of the outer membrane. The mature domain is unfolded and bound to Tom40 at stage B whereas it remains folded at stage A. After dissociation from the TOM complex, translocation of the stage B intermediate, but not of the stage A intermediate, across the inner membrane was promoted by the intermembrane-space domain of Tom22. We propose a new model for protein translocation across the outer membrane, where translocation of the presequence and unfolding of the mature domain are not necessarily coupled.