After incorporation of the purified Na(+)-translocating F0F1-ATPase from Propionigenium modestum into preformed phospholipid vesicles the synthesis of ATP from ADP and inorganic phosphate could be observed under conditions where a valinomycin-mediated K+ diffusion potential (delta psi) and/or a Na+ concentration gradient (delta pNa) were imposed. This reaction was not inhibited by the protonophore carbonyl cyanide p-tri-fluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP). Furthermore, the delta pNa-driven ATP synthesis was stimulated by FCCP. In contrast, the addition of the Na+/H+ antiporter monensin or of the F0F1 inhibitors N,N'-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide and venturicidin abolished the synthesis of ATP completely. Finally, delta pNa alone was able to elicit ATP synthesis, when a Na+ concentration gradient of sufficient magnitude was applied. In this case ATP synthesis occurred above a threshold level of approximately 120 mV and, furthermore, delta psi and delta pNa appear to be equivalent as driving forces for this process. Therefore, the data provide firm evidence for the concept that delta"mu Na+ is the primary driving force for the synthesis of ATP in P. modestum.