N-(p-Azido[3,5-3H]benzoyl)daunorubicin ([3H]NABD), a radioactive photoactive anthracycline analogue, was used to photoaffinity label anthracycline binding polypeptides in P388 murine leukemic cell lines. Whole cell homogenates were mixed with 6 × 10-8 m [3H]NABD, exposed to ultraviolet light, and analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis for radiolabel incorporation. Autoradiofluorography showed incorporation of radioactivity into a Mr 18,000 component independent of polypeptides prominently stained with Coomassie blue. Photolabeling of subcellular fractions showed predominant mitochondrial localization of the Mr 18,000 radiolabel. The protein composition of the photolabeled constituents was confirmed by treatment with proteinase K, DNase and RNase, or by lipid extraction with organic solvent. [3H]NABD photolabeling of homogenates from anthracycline sensitive and resistant cells resulted in Mr 18,000 radiolabel incorporation of 3966 ± 355 and 6487 ± 533 dpm per 50 µg cellular protein for anthracycline sensitive and resistant cells, respectively (P < 0.005). These studies characterize the photoaffinity labeling of a low molecular weight mitochondrial polypeptide using a photoactive anthracycline analogue. The role for this polypeptide as a mediator of anthracycline activity remains to be determined.