The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence was determined on 3 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) exhibiting AD plus Parkinson's disease (PD) neuropathologic changes and one patient with PD. Patient mtDNA sequences were compared to the standard Cambridge sequence to identify base changes. In the first AD+PD patient, 2 of the 15 nucleotide substitutions may contribute to the neuropathology, a nucleotide pair (np) 4336 transition in the tRNA(Gln) gene found 7.4 times more frequently in patients than in controls, and a unique np 721 transition in the 12S rRNA gene which was not found in 70 other patients or 905 controls. In the second AD+PD patient, 27 nucleotide substitutions were detected, including an np 3397 transition in the ND1 gene which converts a conserved methionine to a valine. In the third AD+PD patient, 2 polymorphic base substitutions frequently found at increased frequency in Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy patients were observed, an np 4216 transition in ND1 and an np 13708 transition in the ND5 gene. For the PD patient, 2 novel variants were observed among 25 base substitutions, an np 1709 substitution in the 16S rRNA gene and an np 15851 missense mutation in the cytb gene. Further studies will be required to demonstrate a causal role for these base substitutions in neurodegenerative disease.