BACKGROUND Mitochondria play an important role in the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson's disease. Neurodegenerative changes occur early in the course of multiple sclerosis (MS). This article aims to present information on a possible association between mitochondrial dysfunction and multiple sclerosis.MATERIAL AND METHOD The article is based on original and review articles selected following a literature search in PubMed, restricted to articles written in English, and concluded in May 2016. The literature search resulted in a total of 2276 articles. After a discretionary evaluation by the authors, 71 articles were read in full. Of these, 19 were used as references. In addition, we included 15 articles from reference lists and seven from the authors' own literature archive.RESULTS Mitochondrial changes have been demonstrated in affected areas of the brains of patients with MS. Although some of the changes may be attributed to mitochondrial damage that is secondary to inflammation, others may be compensatory due to the increased energy demands of demyelinated axons. The type of mitochondrial damage varies and is dependent on the pathology that triggers it.INTERPRETATION Mitochondrial damage secondary to inflammation, combined with increased energy demands secondary to demyelination, may result in a chronic energy deficiency in the central nervous system. This in turn may lead to neurodegeneration. Improved knowledge of the role of mitochondria in MS, both secondary to inflammation and possibly as a direct contributor to neurodegeneration, may provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease and perhaps contribute to new treatment options.