The human Src homology and collagen (Shc) gene encodes three protein isoforms of 46, 52, and 66 kDa that belong to a family of molecular adapters involved in several signal transduction pathways. Recently, the 66-kDa isoform has been shown to play a central role in controlling reactive oxygen species metabolism and life span in mammals. Despite the large amount of information available on the biology and biochemistry of Shc proteins, very little is known regarding the regulation of their subcellular localization. Here we demonstrate the specific and selective localization of p46Shc to the mitochondrial matrix. Through deletion mapping experiments, we show that targeting of p46Shc to mitochondria is mediated by its first 32 amino acids, which behave as a bona fide mitochondrial targeting sequence. We further demonstrate that the N-terminal location of the signal peptide is critical for its function. This accounts for the observation that p52Shc and p66Shc, containing the same sequence but more internally located, display a remarkably different subcellular localization. These findings indicate that p46Shc may exert a non-redundant biological function in signal transduction pathways involving mitochondria.