A lowered efficiency of oxidative phosphorylation was recently found in a Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) proband carrying a mutation in the mtDNA gene for subunit 6 of the membrane-bound F0 segment of the F1F0-ATP synthase . This phenotype was transferred to cytoplasmic hybrid cells together with the mutation, proving its functional significance. Increasing the respiratory rate in the mitochondria from this mutant raised the ATP/2e- ratio back to normal values. A different mutation in the same mtDNA gene has been found in patients with the NARP syndrome . Although the ATP/2e- ratio is also decreased in this mutant, in this case an increase in the respiratory rate could not compensate for it. Whilst both mutations affect subunit 6 of the proton-translocating F0 segment, the LHON mutation induces a proton leak whereas the NARP mutation blocks proton translocation. Hence, the latter will have much more destructive metabolic consequences in agreement with the large clinical differences between the two diseases.