In Drosophila melanogaster there are two genes encoding ribosomal protein S5, RpS5a and RpS5b. Here, we demonstrate that RpS5b is required for oogenesis. Females lacking RpS5b produce ovaries with numerous developmental defects that undergo widespread apoptosis in mid-oogenesis. Females lacking germline RpS5a are fully fertile, but germline expression of interfering RNA targeting germline RpS5a in an RpS5b mutant background worsened the RpS5b phenotype and blocked oogenesis before egg chambers form. A broad spectrum of mRNAs co-purified in immunoprecipitations with RpS5a, while RpS5b-associated mRNAs were specifically enriched for GO terms related to mitochondrial electron transport and cellular metabolic processes. Consistent with this, RpS5b mitochondrial fractions are depleted for proteins linked to oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial respiration, and RpS5b mitochondria tended to form large clusters and had more heterogeneous morphology than those from controls. We conclude that RpS5b-containing ribosomes preferentially associate with particular mRNAs and serve an essential function in oogenesis.