While there is general agreement that cardiovascular disease (CVD) development is influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental, and behavioral contributors, the actual mechanistic basis of how these factors initiate or promote CVD development in some individuals while others with identical risk profiles do not, is not clearly understood. This review considers the potential role for mitochondrial genetics and function in determining CVD susceptibility from the standpoint that the original features that molded cellular function were based upon mitochondrial-nuclear relationships established millions of years ago and were likely refined during prehistoric environmental selection events that today, are largely absent. Consequently, contemporary risk factors that influence our susceptibility to a variety of age-related diseases, including CVD were probably not part of the dynamics that defined the processes of mitochondrial-nuclear interaction, and thus, cell function. In this regard, the selective conditions that contributed to cellular functionality and evolution should be given more consideration when interpreting and designing experimental data and strategies. Finally, future studies that probe beyond epidemiologic associations are required. These studies will serve as the initial steps for addressing the provocative concept that contemporary human disease susceptibility is the result of selection events for mitochondrial function that increased chances for prehistoric human survival and reproductive success. © 2011 USCAP, Inc All rights reserved.