The NADH dehydrogenase I from E. coli is a bacterial homolog of the mitochondrial complex I which translocates Na+ rather than H+. To elucidate the mechanism of Na+ transport, the C-terminally truncated NuoL subunit (NuoLN) which is related to Na+/H+ antiporters was expressed as a protein A fusion protein (ProtA-NuoLN) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae which lacks an endogenous complex I. The fusion protein inserted into membranes from the endoplasmatic reticulum (ER), as confirmed by differential centrifugation and Western analysis. Membrane vesicles containing ProtA-NuoLN catalyzed the uptake of Na+ and K+ at rates which were significantly higher than uptake by the control vesicles under identical conditions, demonstrating that ProtA-NuoLN translocated Na+ and K+ independently from other complex I subunits. Na+ transport by ProtA-NuoLN was inhibited by EIPA (5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl)-amiloride) which specifically reacts with Na+/H+ antiporters. The cation selectivity and function of the NuoL subunit as a transporter module of the NADH dehydrogenase complex is discussed.