Effects of 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion (MPP+) on the activities of NAD+- or NADP+-linked dehydrogenases in the TCA cycle were studied using mitochondria prepared from mouse brains. Activities of NAD+- and NADP+-linked isocitrate dehydrogenases, NADH- and NADPH-linked glutamate dehydrogenases, and malate dehydrogenase were little affected by 2 mM of MPP+. However, alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase activity was significantly inhibited by MPP+. Kinetic analysis revealed a competitive type of inhibition. Inhibition of alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase may be one of the important mechanisms of MPP+-induced inhibition of mitochondrial respiration, and of neuronal degeneration.