Two MELAS (mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes) patients with diabetes mellitus (DM), and their family members are described clinically and genetically. The probands have the following features in common; normal early development, short stature, deterioration of intellectual ability, convulsions, cardiac conduction defect, sensorineural hearing loss, cortical blindness, and hemiparesis. Biochemical tests showed high levels of lactate and pyruvate in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Muscle biopsy showed ragged-red fibers. Molecular genetic analysis of both patients revealed that they had an A-to-G substitution at nucleotide position 3243 of the mitochondrial DNA in a heteroplasmic fashion. From these clinical and molecular genetic data they were diagnosed as having MELAS. In addition, fasting blood glucose levels were also high and they were diagnosed as having insulin-dependent DM. Some of the maternal family members in both cases also had insulin-dependent DM and several clinical symptoms of MELAS. DM and clinical features of MELAS were transmitted exclusively in the maternal line. In these cases, DM and MELAS might be a clinical manifestation of the same metabolic defect.