Alterations in mitochondrial respiratory chain enzymes have been found in skeletal muscle of parkinsonian patients. Most of these patients had received treatment with L-dopa in combination with an inhibitor of peripheral decarboxylase for several years. In order to determine whether these effects are only dependent on the disease or are partially due to its therapy, the effects of L-dopa methyl ester and benserazide, a peripheral dopa decarboxylase inhibitor, were studied on various parameters related to energy metabolism in rat skeletal muscle mitochondria. The maximum activities related to complexes of the respiratory chain: rotenone-sensitive NADH-cytochrome c reductase, succinate-cytochrome c reductase, cytochrome c oxidase, state 3, state 4, uncoupled state, and respiratory control ratio were measured after 17-19 days of treatment. The results indicate that L-dopa treatment does not interfere with any of the parameters investigated and suggest that changes in muscle mitochondrial function found in parkinsonian patients are the result of the disease process and not its treatment.