A patient is presented who had therapy-resistant epileptic seizures from the 7th day of life. Examination at the age of 17 months revealed a mentally retarded boy with epileptic seizures, generalised myoclonic contractions, and abnormal ocular movements. A cerebral CT scan showed central and cortical atrophy. Lactate levels in serum, cerebrospinal fluid and urine were elevated, the pyruvate level was raised in serum. A quadriceps muscle biopsy revealed aspecific morphologic signs of a myopathy. Biochemical analysis showed decreased substrate oxidation rates in the mitochondria associated with low rates of ATP production. Total and free carnitine levels were decreased. Investigation of the respiratory chain revealed a defect in the proximal part of respiratory chain involving the region of coenzyme Q. Based on clinical and chemical data it is likely that the patient is suffering from a multi-system disorder.