Standard metabolic rate is 7-fold greater in the rat (a typical mammal) than in the bearded dragon, Amphibolurus vitticeps (a reptile with the same body mass and temperature). Rat hepatocytes respire 4-fold faster than do hepatocytes from the lizard. The inner membrane of isolated rat liver mitochondria has a proton permeability that is 4-5-fold greater than the proton permeability of the lizard liver mitochondrial membrane per mg of mitochondrial protein. The greater permeability of rat mitochondria is not caused by differences in the surface area of the mitochondrial inner membrane, but differences in the fatty acid composition of the mitochondrial phospholipids may be involved in the permeability differences. Greater proton permeability of the mitochondrial inner membrane may contribute to the greater standard metabolic rate of mammals.