Hibernators show superior resistance to ischemia and hypothermia, also outside the hibernation season. Therefore, hibernation is a promising strategy to decrease cellular damage in a variety of fields, such as organ transplantation. Here, we explored the role of mitochondria herein, by comparing epithelial cell lines from a hibernator (hamster kidney cells, HaK) and a non-hibernator (human embryonic kidney cells, HEK293) during cold preservation at 4 degrees C and rewarming. Cell survival (Neutral Red), ATP and MDA levels, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), mitochondrial morphology (using fluorescent probes) and metabolism (seahorse XF) were assessed. Hypothermia induced dispersion of the tubular mitochondrial network, a loss of MMP, increased oxygen radical (MDA) and decreased ATP production in HEK293. In contrast, HaK maintained MMP and ATP production without an increase in oxygen radicals during cooling and rewarming, resulting in superior cell survival compared to HEK293. Further, normothermic HaK showed a dispersed mitochondrial network and higher respiratory and glycolysis capacity compared to HEK293. Disclosing the mechanisms that hibernators use to counteract cell death in hypothermic and ischemic circumstances may help to eventually improve organ preservation in a variety of fields, including organ transplantation.