In Parkinson's disease (PD), mitochondrial dysfunction associates with nigral dopaminergic neuronal loss. Cholinergic neuronal loss co-occurs, particularly within a brainstem structure, the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN). We isolated single cholinergic neurons from post-mortem PPNs of aged controls and PD patients. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number and mtDNA deletions were increased significantly in PD patients compared to controls. Furthermore, compared to controls the PD patients had significantly more PPN cholinergic neurons containing mtDNA deletion levels exceeding 60%, a level associated with deleterious effects on oxidative phosphorylation. The current results differ from studies reporting mtDNA depletion in nigral dopaminergic neurons of PD patients. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.