Examining the pattern of nucleotide substitution for the control region of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in humans and chimpanzees, we developed a new mathematical method for estimating the number of transitional and transversional substitutions per site, as well as the total number of nucleotide substitutions. In this method, excess transitions, unequal nucleotide frequencies, and variation of substitution rate among different sites are all taken into account. Application of this method to human and chimpanzee data suggested that the transition/transversion ratio for the entire control region was approximately 15 and nearly the same for the two species. The 95% confidence interval of the age of the common ancestral mtDNA was estimated to be 80,000-480,000 years in humans and 0.57-2.72 Myr in common chimpanzees.