A novel G8363A mutation in the mtDNA tRNA(Lys) gene was associated, in two unrelated families, with a syndrome consisting of encephalomyopathy, sensorineural hearing loss, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Muscle biopsies from the probands showed mitochondrial proliferation and partial defects of complexes I, III, and IV of the electron-transport chain. The G8363A mutation was very abundant (>95%) in muscle samples from the probands and was less copious in blood from 18 maternal relatives (mean 81.3% +/- 8.5%). Single-muscle-fiber analysis showed significantly higher levels of mutant genomes in cytochrome (c) oxidase-negative fibers than in cytochrome (c) oxidase-positive fibers. The mutation was not found in >200 individuals, including normal controls and patients with other mitochondrial encephalomyopathies, thus fulfilling accepted criteria for pathogenicity.