In this review, we sum up the research carried out over two decades on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication, primarily by comparing this system in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Homo sapiens. Brief incursions into systems of other organisms have also been achieved when they provide new information.S. cerevisiae and H. sapiens mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have been thought for a long time to share closely related architecture and replication mechanisms. However, recent studies suggest that mitochondrial genome of S. cerevisiae may be formed, at least partially, from linear multimeric molecules, while human mtDNA is circular. Although several proteins involved in the replication of these two genomes are very similar, divergences are also now increasingly evident. As an example, the recently cloned human mitochondrial DNA polymerase beta-subunit has no counterpart in yeast. Yet, yeast Abf2p and human mtTFA are probably not as closely functionally related as thought previously. Some mtDNA metabolism factors, like DNA ligases, were until recently largely uncharacterized, and have been found to be derived from alternative nuclear products. Many factors involved in the metabolism of mitochondrial DNA are linked through genetic or biochemical interconnections. These links are presented on a map. Finally, we discuss recent studies suggesting that the yeast mtDNA replication system diverges from that observed in man, and may involve recombination, possibly coupled to alternative replication mechanisms like rolling circle replication.