Mutations of mitochondrial genome are responsible for respiratory chain defects in numerous patients. We have used a strategy, based on the use of a mismatch-specific DNA endonuclease named " Surveyor Nuclease", for screening the entire mtDNA in a group of 50 patients with neuromuscular features, suggesting a respiratory chain dysfunction. We identified mtDNA mutations in 20% of patients (10/50). Among the identified mutations, four are not found in any mitochondrial database and have not been reported previously. We also confirm that mtDNA polymorphisms are frequently found in a heteroplasmic state (15 different polymorphisms were identified among which five were novel).