The complete mitochondrial genome of a lesser hedgehog tenrec Echinops telfairi was determined in this study. It is an endemic African insectivore that is found specifically in Madagascar. The tenrec's back is covered with hedgehog-like spines. Unlike other spiny mammals, such as spiny mice, spiny rats, spiny dormice and porcupines, lesser hedgehog tenrecs look amazingly like true hedgehogs (Erinaceidae). However, they are distinguished morphologically from hedgehogs by the absence of a jugal bone. We determined the complete sequence of the mitochondrial genome of a lesser hedgehog tenrec and analyzed the results phylogenetically to determine the relationships between the tenrec and other insectivores (moles, shrews and hedgehogs), as well as the relationships between the tenrec and endemic African mammals, classified as Afrotheria, that have recently been shown by molecular analysis to be close relatives of the tenrec. Our data confirmed the afrotherian status of the tenrec, and no direct relation was recovered between the tenrec and the hedgehog. Comparing our data with those of others, we found that within-species variations in the mitochondrial DNA of lesser hedgehog tenrecs appear to be the largest recognized to date among mammals, apart from orangutans, which might be interesting from the view point of evolutionary history of tenrecs on Madagascar.