We aimed to establish the population prevalence of the MELAS 3243A>G mtDNA mutation in a large Caucasian-based population (n=2954; 99% Caucasian, 57% women and mean age of 66.4 years). All participants underwent comprehensive clinical evaluation including audiologic testing. We detected the 3243A>G mutation in seven subjects using standard polymerase chain reaction/restriction fragment length polymorphism methods, establishing a population prevalence of 236/100000 (0.24%; 95% CI 0.10-0.49%); much higher than previously reported. All had mild to moderate hearing loss. Our findings indicate that subjects with the 3243A>G mtDNA mutation could be markedly under-recognised in the community.