We investigated reports that mitochondria isolated from hypothyroid rats have decreased ADP/O and H+/O ratios. We observed no decrease in the H+/O ratio in mitochondria from hypothyroid rats, in the presence of either 2% (w/v) fatty-acid-free bovine serum albumin or 100 nM free Ca2+. The ADP/O ratio in mitochondria isolated from hypothyroid rats in the presence of 2% fatty-acid-free bovine serum albumin was measured. Under normal experimental conditions we found no decrease in the ADP/O ratio, relative to that measured for littermate controls. At the low concentrations of mitochondrial protein used in the previously reported studies, the ADP/O ratio of mitochondria from hypothyroid rats was decreased, whereas that for control rats was only slightly decreased. The difference between the ADP/O ratios measured for mitochondria form hypothyroid rats and from control rats under these conditions was eliminated by inhibition of endogenous adenylate kinase. We suggest that the lowering of the apparent ADP/O ratio in mitochondria from hypothyroid rats at low concentrations of mitochondrial protein is an experimental artefact resulting from the breakdown of ADP to AMP.