Benign bladder pathology resulting from prostatic hypertrophy or other causes is a significant problem associated with ageing in humans. This condition is characterized by increased bladder mass, decreased urinary flow rate, decreased compliance, and these and other changes in bladder function often subject patients to increased risk of urinary tract infection. While the physiologic attributes of benign bladder pathology have been extensively described in humans and in various animal model systems, the biochemical and molecular genetic bases for that pathology have only recently been investigated in detail. Studies demonstrate that mitochondrial energy production and utilization are severely impaired in bladder smooth muscle during benign bladder disease, and to a large extent this realization has provided a rational basis for understanding the characteristic alterations in urinary flow and compliance in bladder tissue. Recent investigations targeting the detailed molecular basis for impaired mitochondrial function in the disease have shown that performance of the organellar genetic system, and to a large extent that of relevant portions of the nuclear genetic system as well, is severely aberrant in bladder tissue. In this article, we discuss the physiologic aspects of benign bladder disease, summarize biochemical evidence for the altered mitochondrial energy metabolism that appears to underlie bladder pathology, review the structure and function of the mitochondrial genetic system, and discuss molecular genetic studies of that system which have begun to provide a mechanistic explanation for the biochemical and physiological abnormalities that characterize the disease. We also discuss areas for further research which will be critically important in increasing our understanding of the detailed causes of benign bladder pathology.