Biochemical analysis was performed in muscle tissue and in fibroblasts of four unrelated females consecutively diagnosed with a 'de novo' point mutation in the PDHA1 gene. Pyruvate dehydrogenase E1 subunit deficiency was confirmed in the muscle sample of all patients, however, in three out of four cases the activity of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex in fibroblasts showed a normal activity. A skewed inactivation was confirmed of the maternal X chromosome in fibroblasts in all children. Due to the possibility of a skewed X inactivation pattern enzyme measurements in fibroblasts are not always reliable for the diagnosis of a PDHc defect in females. Based on the overlapping features of PDHc deficiency with those of the disorders of the oxidative phosphorylation we suggest performing a fresh muscle biopsy for detailed biochemical analysis in females with a suspected pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency, followed by molecular genetic analysis of the PDHA1 gene.