Maintenance of topological homeostasis is vital for gene expression and genome replication in all organisms. Similar to other circular genomes, also mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is known to exist in various different topological forms, although their functional significance remains unknown. We report here that both known type II topoisomerases Top2α and Top2β are present in mammalian mitochondria, with especially Top2β regulating the supercoiling state of mtDNA. Loss of Top2β or its inhibition by ciprofloxacin results in accumulation of positively supercoiled mtDNA, followed by cessation of mitochondrial transcription and replication initiation, causing depletion of mtDNA copy number. These mitochondrial effects block both cell proliferation and differentiation, possibly explaining some of the side effects associated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics. Our results show for the first time the importance of topology for maintenance of mtDNA homeostasis and provide novel insight into the mitochondrial effects of fluoroquinolones.