The human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome is commonly analyzed in various disciplines, such as population, medical, and forensic genetics, but conceptual and scientific exchange between them is still limited. Here we review several aspects of the mtDNA phylogeny that are particularly - but not exclusively - of interest to the forensic community. Among the issues that arise, we emphasize the importance of integrating evolutionary concepts into the forensic routine. We also discuss topics such as mtDNA mutation-rate heterogeneity and the weight of evidence, ethnic affiliations of mtDNA profiles, and the abuse of reference databases. Finally, we show the usefulness of coding-region variation in a forensic context.