In two siblings we found a mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, characterized by developmental delay, hemiplegia, convulsions, asymmetrical brain atrophy, and low cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity in skeletal muscle. The disease locus was identified on chromosome 2 by homozygosity mapping; candidate genes were prioritized for their known or predicted mitochondrial localization and then sequenced in probands and controls. A homozygous nonsense mutation in the KIAA0971 gene segregated with the disease in the proband family. The corresponding protein is known as fas activated serine-threonine kinase domain 2, FASTKD2. Confocal immunofluorescence colocalized a tagged recombinant FASTKD2 protein with mitochondrial markers, and membrane-potential-dependent in vitro mitochondrial import was demonstrated in isolated mitochondria. In staurosporine-induced-apoptosis experiments, decreased nuclear fragmentation was detected in treated mutant versus control fibroblasts. In conclusion, we found a loss-of-function mutation in a gene segregating with a peculiar mitochondrial encephalomyopathy associated with COX deficiency in skeletal muscle. The corresponding protein is localized in the mitochondrial inner compartment. Preliminary data indicate that FASTKD2 plays a role in mitochondrial apoptosis.