The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of an aerobic training program on the metabolic and sympathetic responses to exercise in 12 patients with mitochondrial myopathies. A 10-week course of aerobic training, consisting of supervised exercise every other day on an electrically braked pedal-rate bicycle ergometer was prescribed to each patient and four healthy controls. Venous lactate, epinephrine (EP) and norepinephrine (NEP) levels were assessed at baseline and after the aerobic training by means of constant-workload exercise performed at near lactate threshold (LT). In patients, a decrease in exercise peak values, significant for lactate (-38.6%, P < 0.01) but not for catecholamines (EP: -26.0%, NEP: -22.1%) was observed after training, findings confirmed by the lactate/EP and lactate/NEP area ratios. The results show that lactate accumulation during exercise is decreased after aerobic training in mitochondrial myopathies and that the effect is partially dissociated from the catecholaminergic response. This in turn suggests that the lactate decrease can be explained, at least in part, by the improved muscle oxidative metabolism consequent to the proposed training program.