In ectotherms, the external temperature is experienced by the mitochondria, and the mitochondrial respiration of different genotypes is likely to change as a result. Using high-resolution respirometry with permeabilized fibers (an in situ approach), we tried to identify differences in mitochondrial performance and thermal sensitivity of two Drosophila simulans populations with two different mitochondrial types (siII and siIII) and geographical distributions. Maximal state 3 respiration rates obtained with electrons converging at the Q junction of the electron transport system (ETS) differed between the mitotypes at 24°C. Catalytic capacities were higher in flies harboring siII than in those harboring siIII mitochondrial DNA (2,129 vs. 1,390 pmol O(2)·s(-1)·mg protein(-1)). The cytochrome c oxidase activity was also higher in siII than siIII flies (3,712 vs. 2,688 pmol O(2)·s(-1)·mg protein(-1)). The higher catalytic capacity detected in the siII mitotype could provide an advantage in terms of intensity of aerobic activity, endurance, or both, if the intensity of exercise that can be aerobically performed is partly dictated by the aerobic capacity of the tissue. Moreover, thermal sensitivity results showed that even if temperature affects the catalytic capacity of the different enzymes of the ETS, both mitotypes revealed high tolerance to temperature variation. Previous in vitro study failed to detect any consistent functional mitochondrial differences between the same mitotypes. We conclude that the in situ approach is more sensitive and that the ETS is a robust system in terms of functional and regulatory properties across a wide range of temperatures.