The TIM23 complex mediates translocation of proteins across, and their lateral insertion into, the mitochondrial inner membrane. Translocation of proteins requires both the membrane-embedded core of the complex and its ATP-dependent import motor. Insertion of some proteins, however, occurs in the absence of ATP, questioning the need for the import motor during lateral insertion. We show here that the import motor associates with laterally inserted proteins even when its ATPase activity is not required. Furthermore, our results suggest a role for the import motor in lateral insertion. Thus, the import motor is involved in ATP-dependent translocation and ATP-independent lateral insertion. © 2011 European Molecular Biology Organization.