Rat liver mitochondria were isolated by a combination of differential and Percoll gradient centrifugation, resulting in a highly pure and intact preparation, as assessed by marker enzyme analysis, latency of cytochrome-c oxidase, respiratory control index and electron microscopy. Two different methods were compared for the separation of inner and outer membranes. In the swell-shrink-sonicate procedure glycerol was included resulting in the isolation of one outer membrane and two inner membrane fractions of high purity. Using digitonin a highly selective and gradual solubilization of the outer membrane could be accomplished. Analysis of the phospholipid composition of the intact mitochondria and all subfractions showed that the inner membrane was virtually devoid of phosphatidylinositol and -serine, while the outer membrane contained 23% of the total mitochondrial cardiolipin, which did not originate from inner membrane contamination and therefore is a true component of the outer membrane.