Proton transport by the nitrate-insensitive, vanadate-sensitive ATPase in Kl-washed microsomes and reconstituted vesicles from maize (Zea mays L.) roots was followed by changes in acridine orange absorbance in the presence of either KNO(3) or KCl. Data from such studies obeyed a kinetic model in which net proton transport by the pump is the difference between the rate of proton transport by the action of the ATPase and the leak of protons from the vesicles in the direction opposite from the pump. After establishing the steady state proton gradient, the rate of return of transported protons was found to obey first-order kinetics when the activity of the ATPase was completely and rapidly stopped. The rate of return of these protons varied with the quencher used. When the substrate Mg:ATP was depleted by the addition of either EDTA or hexokinase, the rate at which the proton gradient collapsed was faster than when vanadate was used as the quencher. These trends were independent of the anion accompanying the K and the transport assay used.