The decision of the UK House of Commons in 2015 to endorse the use of pioneering in vitro fertilisation techniques to protect future generations from the risk of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) disease has sparked worldwide controversy and debate. The availability of such technologies could benefit women at risk of transmitting deleterious mutations. MtDNA disease certainly occurs in South Africa (SA) in all population groups. However, diagnostic strategies and practices for identifying individuals who would benefit from technologies such as IVF have in the past been suboptimal in this country. New developments in the molecular diagnostic services available to SA patients, as well as better education of referring clinicians and the implementation of more structured, population-appropriate diagnostic strategies, may open the floor to this debate in SA.