Mitochondria are thought to be derived from an ancestor of the alpha-proteobacteria and more specifically from the Rickettsiaceae. The bioenergetic repertoire of the obligate intracellular parasite Rickettsia prowazekii is consistent with its postulated role as the ancestor of the mitochondria. For example, the R. prowazekii genome contains genes encoding components of the tricarboxylic acid cycle as well as of the electron transport system, but lacks genes to support glycolysis. In addition, the R. prowazekii genome contains multiple genes coding for adenine nucleotide translocators which enables this intracellular parasite to exploit the cytoplasmic ATP of its host cell as a source of energy. The aim of this review is to describe the different aspects of the bioenergetic system in R. prowazekii and to discuss the results of phylogenetic reconstructions based on a variety of bioenergetic molecules which shed light on the origin and evolution of the mitochondrial genomes.