We studied mitochondrial function in vivo in 2 brothers harboring the mitochondrial DNA A3243G mutation by using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. One brother presented with recurrent strokes and had a mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I defect, with 85% A3243G mutation in his quadriceps. The maximum rate of mitochondrial ATP production in his calf, measured in vivo, was reduced to 21% of the normal mean value. The second brother had mild exercise intolerance, normal muscle histochemistry, and normal respiratory chain activity in vitro. Despite a level of the A3243G mutation of only 5.95% (SD, 4.45; range, 0.7-16.1%) within single muscle fibers from the gastrocnemius muscle, the maximum rate of mitochondrial ATP production in his calf, measured in vivo, was reduced to 35% of the normal mean value. These findings suggest that there may not be a clear genetic threshold level for the expression of the A3243G mutation in skeletal muscle in vivo.