Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) presents with sudden onset of visual loss mainly in young adult males. LHON is not uncommon in Australia, accounting for 2% of invalid blind pensions. We have identified 20 unrelated families carrying mitochondrial DNA mutations associated with LHON and 135 of 291 individuals with documented LHON are currently alive in Australia. The mean age of onset of visual loss for males was 26 years and for females 27 years, with a range from six to 65 years. The mean risk of visual loss was 20% for males and 4% for females. There are over 1750 male and female carriers living in Australia who have not yet lost vision; 600 carriers are under 24 years of age. The expected number of new cases of blindness from LHON is three to four per year.