Mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication are regulated during development and in response to physiological stresses, but the regulatory events that control the abundance of mtDNA in cells of higher eukaryotes have not been defined at a molecular level. In this study, we observed that expression of the catalytic subunit of DNA polymerase γ (POLγ(CAT)) mRNA varies little among different tissues and is not increased by continuous neural activation of skeletal muscle, a potent stimulus to mitochondrial biogenesis. Increased copy number for the POLγ locus in a human cell line bearing a partial duplication of chromosome 15 increased the abundance of POLγ(CAT) mRNA without up-regulation of mtDNA. In contrast, expression of mitochondrial single-stranded DNA-binding (mtSSB) mRNA is regulated coordinately with variations in the abundance of mtDNA among tissues of mammalian organisms and is up-regulated in association with the enhanced mitochondrial biogenesis that characterizes early postnatal development of the heart and the adaptive response of skeletal myofibers to motor nerve stimulation. In addition, we noted that expression of mtSSB is concentrated within perinuclear mitochondria that constitute active sites of mtDNA replication. We conclude that constitutive expression of the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of mitochondrial DNA polymerase is sufficient to support physiological variations in mtDNA replication among specialized cell types, whereas expression of the mtSSB gene is controlled by molecular mechanisms acting to regulate mtDNA replication or stability in mammalian cells.