Mitochondria are central for various cellular processes that include ATP production, intracellular Ca(2+) signaling, and generation of reactive oxygen species. Neurons critically depend on mitochondrial function to establish membrane excitability and to execute the complex processes of neurotransmission and plasticity. While much information about mitochondrial properties is available from studies on isolated mitochondria and dissociated cell cultures, less is known about mitochondrial function in intact neurons in brain tissue. However, a detailed description of the interactions between mitochondrial function, energy metabolism, and neuronal activity is crucial for the understanding of the complex physiological behavior of neurons, as well as the pathophysiology of various neurological diseases. The combination of new fluorescence imaging techniques, electrophysiology, and brain slice preparations provides a powerful tool to study mitochondrial function during neuronal activity, with high spatiotemporal resolution. This review summarizes recent findings on mitochondrial Ca(2+) transport, mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsi(m)), and energy metabolism during neuronal activity. We will first discuss interactions of these parameters for experimental stimulation conditions that can be related to the physiological range. We will then describe how mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction develops during pathological neuronal activity, focusing on temporal lobe epilepsy and its experimental models. The aim is to illustrate that 1) the structure of the mitochondrial compartment is highly dynamic in neurons, 2) there is a fine-tuned coupling between neuronal activity and mitochondrial function, and 3) mitochondria are of central importance for the complex behavior of neurons.