Some bacterial group II introns are widely used for genetic engineering in bacteria, because they can be reprogrammed to insert into the desired DNA target sites. There is considerable interest in developing this group II intron gene targeting technology for use in eukaryotes, but nuclear genomes present several obstacles to the use of this approach. The nuclear genomes of eukaryotes do not contain group II introns, but these introns are thought to have been the progenitors of nuclear spliceosomal introns. We investigated the expression and subcellular localization of the bacterial RmInt1 group II intron-encoded protein (IEP) in Arabidopsis thaliana protoplasts. Following the expression of translational fusions of the wild-type protein and several mutant variants with EGFP, the full-length IEP was found exclusively in the nucleolus, whereas the maturase domain alone targeted EGFP to nuclear speckles. The distribution of the bacterial RmInt1 IEP in plant cell protoplasts suggests that the compartmentalization of eukaryotic cells into nucleus and cytoplasm does not prevent group II introns from invading the host genome. Furthermore, the trafficking of the IEP between the nucleolus and the speckles upon maturase inactivation is consistent with the hypothesis that the spliceosomal machinery evolved from group II introns.