Understanding metabolic pathways that regulate Th17 development is important to broaden therapeutic options for Th17-mediated autoimmunity. Here, we report a pivotal role of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for lineage specification toward pathogenic Th17 differentiation. Th17 cells rapidly increase mitochondrial respiration during development, and this is necessary for metabolic reprogramming following T cell activation. Surprisingly, specific inhibition of mitochondrial ATP synthase ablates Th17 pathogenicity in a mouse model of autoimmunity by preventing Th17 pathogenic signature gene expression. Notably, cells activated under OXPHOS-inhibited Th17 conditions preferentially express Foxp3, rather than Th17 genes, and become suppressive Treg cells. Mechanistically, OXPHOS promotes the Th17 pioneer transcription factor, BATF, and facilitates T cell receptor (TCR) and mTOR signaling. Correspondingly, overexpression of BATF rescues Th17 development when ATP synthase activity is restricted. Together, our data reveal a regulatory role of mitochondrial OXPHOS in dictating the fate decision between Th17 and Treg cells by supporting early molecular events necessary for Th17 commitment.