The mitochondrial myopathies consist of a heterogeneous group of disorders caused by structural and functional abnormalities in mitochondria leading to involvement of the nervous system and muscles as well as other organ systems. The peculiar genetic characteristics of mitochondrial DNA impart distinctive properties to these disorders. The pathophysiology is presented. The methods employed in making the correct diagnosis, the preoperative patient assessment and correction of metabolic dysfunctions and anaesthetic techniques used, are highlighted. The conditions are briefly reviewed and suggestions are made for the safe anaesthetic management of affected patients.