We have identified a new mutation in the tRNA(Lys) gene of mtDNA, in a 49-year-old patient with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy. The mutation is a heteroplasmic G-->A transition at position 8328, which affects the anticodon stem loop at a conserved site. The mutation was neither found in 100 controls nor in the maternal relatives of the patient. The level of mutated mtDNA was 57% in muscle, 13% in fibroblasts, and 10% in lymphocytes. Histochemistry of muscle tissue revealed cytochrome c oxidase-deficient fibers with abnormal accumulation of mitochondria. Biochemistry of muscle mitochondria showed slight cytochrome c oxidase deficiency. The mean ratio of mutant mtDNA to normal mtDNA in cytochrome c oxidase-positive muscle fibers was 59%, whereas a mean ratio of 95% was found in cytochrome c oxidase-negative fibers. The difference between cytochrome c oxidase-positive and cytochrome c oxidase-negative fibers was highly significant (P < 0.001). The mutation was not found in muscle or lymphocytes of the mother and daughter of the proband. This is the first report of a de novo point mutation in the tRNA(Lys) gene in an individual expressing disease and the first report of lack of transmission of the mutation to the offspring of a patient expressing a mitochondrial encephalomyopathy caused by a point mutation in mtDNA.