To evaluate whether the absence or modification of paternal mitochondrial DNA or methylation of the oocyte mitochondrial DNA could be the molecular basis for maternal inheritance of mitochondria in mammals, the mitochondrial genome has been analyzed in four meiotic and postmeiotic testicular cell types, and in oocytes from the mouse. All four testicular cell types including spermatozoa contain mitochondrial DNA. Between meiosis and the end of spermatogenesis the number of mitochondrial genomes per haploid genome decreases 8- to 10-fold with spermatozoa containing approximately one copy of the mitochondrial genome per mitochondrion. Restriction enzyme digestions with six different enzymes indicate no gross differences in DNA sequence in the testicular mitochondrial DNA from meiotic cells, early haploid cells, late haploid cells, and spermatozoa. By the criterion of differential digestion with the isoschizomers, MspI and HpaII, the mitochondrial DNA is not differentially methylated during spermatogenesis. No methylation differences were detected in mitochondrial DNA from sperm and oocytes following digestion with seven methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes.