Neuroleptic medications are prescribed to millions of patients, but their use is limited by potentially irreversible extrapyramidal side effects. Haloperidol shows striking structural similarities to the neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetra-hydropyridine, which produces parkinsonism apparently through inhibition of NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. We now report that haloperidol chlorpromazine, and thiothixine inhibit complex I in vitro in rat brain mitochondria. Clozapine, an atypical antipsychotic reported to have little or no extrapyramidal toxicity, also inhibits complex I, but at a significantly higher concentration. Neuroleptic treated patients have significant depression of platelet complex I activity similar to that seen in idiopathic Parkinson's disease. Complex I inhibition may be associated with the extrapyramidal side effects of these drugs.