A rare form of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) that is associated with hereditary spastic dystonia has been studied in a large Dutch family. Neuropathy and ophthalmological lesions were present together in some family members, whereas only one type of abnormality was found in others. mtDNA mutations previously reported in LHON were not present. Sequence analysis of the protein-coding mitochondrial genes revealed two previously unreported mtDNA mutations. A heteroplasmic A-->G transition at nucleotide position 11696 in the ND4 gene resulted in the substitution of an isoleucine for valine at amino acid position 312. A second mutation, a homoplasmic T-->A transition at nucleotide position 14596 in the ND6 gene, resulted in the substitution of a methionine for the isoleucine at amino acid residue 26. Biochemical analysis of a muscle biopsy revealed a severe complex I deficiency, providing a link between these unique mtDNA mutations and this rare, complex phenotype including Leber optic neuropathy.