Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in premature aging, age-related diseases, and tumor initiation and progression. Alterations of the mitochondrial genome accumulate both in aging tissue and tumors. This paper describes our contemporary view of mechanisms by which alterations of the mitochondrial genome contributes to the development of age- and tumor-related pathological conditions. The mechanisms described encompass altered production of mitochondrial ROS, altered regulation of the nuclear epigenome, affected initiation of apoptosis, and a limiting effect on the production of ribonucleotides and deoxyribonucleotides. © 2011 Claus Desler et al.