Mitochondrial cytopathies are associated with increased free radical generation and paracrystalline inclusions. Paracrystalline inclusions were serendipitously found in a young male athlete with a very high respiratory exchange ratio during steady-state exercise; he also had an unusually low aerobic capacity. Direct sequencing of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) coding regions revealed a novel missense mutation (G15497A) resulting in a glycine-->serine conversion at a highly conserved site in the cytochrome b gene in the subject, his mother, and sister. Cybrids, prepared by fusion of the subject's platelets with either U87MG rho degrees or SH-SY5Y rho degrees cells, generated higher basal levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), had a lower adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content, and were more sensitive to oxygen and glucose deprivation and peroxynitrite generation compared to control cybrids with wild-type mtDNA. Cell survival was significantly enhanced with 50 mmol/L creatine monohydrate (CM) administration. The subject was also treated with CM (10 g/d) for a period of 5 weeks and a repeat muscle biopsy showed no paracrystalline inclusions. The results suggest that the development of exercise-induced paracrystalline inclusions may be influenced by the G15497A mtDNA mutation, and that CM mitigates against the pathological consequences of this mutation.