Studies in Bristol in the 1960s and 1970s, led to the recognition that four mitochondrial dehydrogenases are activated by calcium ions. These are FAD-glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase, pyruvate dehydrogenase, NAD-isocitrate dehydrogenase and oxoglutarate dehydrogenase. FAD-glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase is located on the outer surface of the inner mitochondrial membrane and is influenced by changes in cytoplasmic calcium ion concentration. The other three enzymes are located within mitochondria and are regulated by changes in mitochondrial matrix calcium ion concentration. These and subsequent studies on purified enzymes, mitochondria and intact cell preparations have led to the widely accepted view that the activation of these enzymes is important in the stimulation of the respiratory chain and hence ATP supply under conditions of increased ATP demand in many stimulated mammalian cells. The effects of calcium ions on FAD-isocitrate dehydrogenase involve binding to an EF-hand binding motif within this enzyme but the binding sites involved in the effects of calcium ions on the three intramitochondrial dehydrogenases remain to be fully established. It is also emphasised in this article that these three dehydrogenases appear only to be regulated by calcium ions in vertebrates and that this raises some interesting and potentially important developmental issues.