Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is due to mutations in the FRDA gene (FRDA). When the gene homologous to FRDA is knocked out in yeast, there is accumulation of iron in mitochondria and reduced respiratory function. So far, there is only indirect evidence to support the hypothesis that FRDA is due to accumulation of mitochondrial iron leading to increased production of free radicals. We show here that mitochondrial iron is significantly higher in fibroblasts from patients with FRDA than in control fibroblasts. This is the first direct evidence that the findings in yeast are reproducible in cells from patients with FRDA.