Mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) defects are observed in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients and in PD fly- and mouse-models; however it remains to be tested if acute improvement of ETC function alleviates PD-relevant defects. We tested the hypothesis that 808 nm infrared light that effectively penetrates tissues rescues pink1 mutants. We show that irradiating isolated fly or mouse mitochondria with 808 nm light that is absorbed by ETC-Complex IV acutely improves Complex IV-dependent oxygen consumption and ATP production, a feature that is wavelength-specific. Irradiating Drosophila pink1 mutants using a single dose of 808 nm light results in a rescue of major systemic and mitochondrial defects. Time-course experiments indicate mitochondrial membrane potential defects are rescued prior to mitochondrial morphological defects, also in dopaminergic neurons, suggesting mitochondrial functional defects precede mitochondrial swelling. Thus, our data indicate that improvement of mitochondrial function using infrared light stimulation is a viable strategy to alleviate pink1-related defects.