Despite exhaustive chemical and crystal structure studies, the mechanistic details of how FoF1-ATP synthase can convert mechanical energy to chemical, producing ATP, are still not fully understood. On the basis of quantum mechanical calculations using a recent highresolution X-ray structure, we conclude that formation of the P-O bond may be achieved through a transition state (TS) with a planar PO3 - ion. Surprisingly, there is a more than 40 kJ/mol difference between barrier heights of the loose and tight binding sites of the enzyme. This indicates that even a relatively small change in active site conformation, induced by the γ-subunit rotation, may effectively block the back reaction in βTP and, thus, promote ATP. © 2009 American Chemical Society.