Friedreich's ataxia is the most common inherited autosomal recessive ataxia and is characterized by progressive degeneration of the peripheral and central nervous systems and cardiomyopathy. This disease is caused by the silencing of the FXN gene and reduced levels of the encoded protein, frataxin. Frataxin is a mitochondrial protein that functions primarily in iron-sulfur cluster synthesis. This small protein with an alpha/beta sandwich fold undergoes complex processing and imports into the mitochondria, generating isoforms with distinct N-terminal lengths which may underlie different functionalities, also in respect to oligomerization. Missense mutations in the FXN coding region, which compromise protein folding, stability, and function, are found in 4% of FRDA heterozygous patients and are useful to understand how loss of functional frataxin impacts on FRDA physiopathology. In cells, frataxin deficiency leads to pleiotropic phenotypes, including deregulation of iron homeostasis and increased oxidative stress. Increasing amount of data suggest that oxidative stress contributes to neurodegeneration in Friedreich's ataxia.