OBJECTIVE To investigate the mechanism of mitochondrial oxidative injury induced by high glucose peritoneal dialysis solution (PDS) and the protective effect of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α) in the mitochondria of human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMC) in the high glucose ambience. METHODS HPMC was cultured in a PDS containing 1.5%, 2.5% and 4.25% glucose for 24 hours. Western blot analysis was used to detect PGC-1α expression. MitoSOX? Red staining, respiratory chain complexes and antioxidant enzyme activities were determined. RESULTS The activities of respiratory chain complex III and antioxidant enzymes decreased significantly in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, along with the increased production of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cellular apoptosis. In addition, protein expression of PGC-1α was also decreased in the high glucose PDS ambience. CONCLUSION High glucose PDS might inhibit PGC-1α expression, resulting in the inhibition of mitochondrial function and increase of mitochondrial ROS and cellular apoptosis.