Mitochondrial DNA is an extranuclear genome normally maternally inherited through the oocyte. However, the use of nuclear transfer can result in both donor cell and recipient oocyte mitochondrial DNA persisting through to blastocyst and being transmitted to the offspring. The degree of donor mitochondrial DNA transmission appears to be random and currently no evidence exists to explain this phenomenon. To determine whether this is a dilution factor or directly related to the transcriptional status of the donor cell in respect of mitochondrial DNA transcription factors, we have generated sheep nuclear transfer embryos using donor cells: (1) possessing their full mitochondrial DNA complement, (2) those partially depleted, and (3) those depleted but containing residual levels. For each donor type, donor mitochondrial DNA persisted in some blastocysts. It is evident from the donor cells used that nuclear-encoded mitochondrial DNA transcription and replication factors persist even after mitochondrial DNA depletion, as do transcripts for some of the mitochondrial-encoded genes. These cells are therefore still programmed to drive mitochondrial DNA replication and transcription. In nuclear transfer-derived embryos, we have observed the persistence of these nuclear-encoded mitochondrial DNA transcription and replication factors but not in those embryos generated through in vitro fertilization. Consequently, nucleo-mitochondrial interaction following nuclear transfer is out of sequence as the onset of mitochondrial replication is a postimplantation event.