Variegated plants have green- and white-sectored leaves. Cells in the green sectors contain morphologically normal chloroplasts, whereas cells in the white sectors contain non-pigmented plastids that lack organized lamellar structures. Many variegations are caused by mutations in nuclear genes that affect plastid function, yet in only a few cases have the responsible genes been cloned. We show that mutations in the nuclear VAR2 locus of Arabidopsis cause variegation due to loss of a chloroplast thylakoid membrane protein that bears similarity to the FtsH family of AAA proteins (ATPases associated with diverse cellular activities). Escherichia coil FtsH is a chaperone metalloprotease that functions in a number of diverse membrane-associated events. Although FtsH homologs have been identified in multicellular organisms, their functions and activities are largely unknown; we provide genetic in vivo evidence that VAR2 functions in thylakoid membrane biogenesis. We have isolated four var2 alleles and they have allowed us to define domains of the protein that are required for activity. These include two putative ATP-binding sites. VAR2 protein amounts generally correlate with the severity of the var2 mutant phenotype. One allele lacks detectable VAR2 protein, suggesting that the mechanism of var2 variegation involves the action of a redundant activity in the green sectors. We conclude that redundant activities may be a general mechanism to explain nuclear gene-induced plant variegations.