There are an increasing number of studies indicating that mitochondria are relevant targets in nanomaterial-induced toxicity. However, the underlying mechanisms by which nanoparticles (NPs) interact with these organelles and affect their functions are unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of cadmium telluride quantum dot (CdTe-QD) NPs on mitochondria in human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells. CdTe-QD treatment resulted in the enlargement of mitochondria as examined with transmission electron microscopy and confocal microscopy. CdTe-QDs appeared to associate with the isolated mitochondria as detected by their inherent fluorescence. Further analyses revealed that CdTe-QD caused disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential, increased intracellular calcium levels, impaired cellular respiration, and decreased adenosine triphosphate synthesis. The effects of CdTe-QDs on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation were evidenced by changes in levels and activities of the enzymes of the electron transport chain. Elevation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator levels after CdTe-QD treatment suggested the effects of CdTe-QDs on mitochondrial biogenesis. Our results also showed that the effects of CdTe-QDs were similar or greater to those of cadmium chloride at equivalent concentrations of cadmium, suggesting that the toxic effects of CdTe-QDs were not solely due to cadmium released from the NPs. Overall, the study demonstrated that CdTe-QDs induced multifarious toxicity by causing changes in mitochondrial morphology and structure, as well as impairing their function and stimulating their biogenesis.