The free radical theory of aging says that increased oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are associated with old age. In the present study we have investigated the effects of cellular senescence on muscle energetic by comparing mitochondrial content and function in cultured muscle satellite cells at early and late passage numbers. We show that cultured muscle satellite cells undergoing senescence express a reduced mitochondrial mass, decreased whole cell ATP level, normal to increased mitochondrial ATP production under ATP utilization, increased mitochondrial membrane potential and increased superoxide/mitochondrial mass and hydrogen peroxide/mitochondrial mass ratios. Moreover, the increased ROS production correlates with the corresponding mitochondrial ATP production. Thus, myotubes differentiated from human myoblasts undergoing senescence have a reduced mitochondrial content, but the existent mitochondria express normal to increased functional capabilities. The present data suggest that the origin of aging lies outside the mitochondria and that a malfunction in the cell might be preceding and initiating the increase of mitochondrial ATP synthesis and concomitant ROS production in the single mitochondrion in response to decreased mitochondrial mass and reduced extra-mitochondrial energy supply. This then can lead to the increased damage of DNA, lipids and proteins of the mitochondria as postulated by the free radical theory of aging.