ORFB is the product of a gene that is conserved in plant mitochondrial genomes, and which, on the basis of sequence motif and structural similarity, is predicted to be the homologue of yeast and mammalian ATP8, part of the FO component of the F1FO-ATP synthase. We have shown that, in sunflower, orfB transcripts are edited, increasing the similarity of the predicted protein to ATP8 proteins from non-plant species. Blue-native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and peptide sequencing confirm that ORFB localizes to the ATP synthase complex. The predicted amino-terminal 19 amino acids of ORFB are identical to those in the chimeric mitochondrial ORF522 protein, which is associated with cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) in sunflower. Assays comparing respiratory complexes from a male-sterile line expressing ORF522 with those from a male-fertile line show a specific decrease in ATP hydrolysis by the ATP synthase. These observations allow us to propose a mechanism underlying CMS that is associated with the expression of chimeric open reading frames containing part of the orfB gene.