Thirteen Japanese families (ten of which were from the northern part of Japan), with sensorineural hearing loss associated with the 1555 A to G (A1555G) mitochondrial mutation, a known cause of non-syndromic hearing loss, were phylogenetically analysed using data obtained by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and D-loop sequencing of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Various types of mtDNA polymorphism were detected by restriction enzymes and D-loop sequence. No common polymorphic pattern throughout the 13 families was found, though three families exhibited the same restriction patterns and the same sequence substitution in the D-loop. To find where each of the 13 families are situated in the phylogenetic tree, the 482-bp of D-loop sequence were compared with those of 62 normal Japanese subjects. Despite the three families mentioned above appearing to be clustered, the remaining 10 families were scattered along the phylogenetic tree. This indicates that there was no common ancestor for the 13 Japanese families bearing the A1555G mutation except three families, and that the A1555G mutation occurred sporadically and multiplied through evolution of the mtDNA in Japan. The present results showed that the common pathogenicity (hearing loss associated with the A1555G mutation) can occur sporadically in families which have different genetic backgrounds, even in the Japanese population.