The protonmotive force stimulates translocation in vivo, in crude in vitro reactions, and in a purified, reconstituted reaction. Translocation activity is a function of the pH at the inner face of the membrane. Both the transmembrane pH gradient and the transmembrane electrical potential stimulate translocation. A late-stage translocation intermediate of the proOmpA preprotein completes its translocation in the absence of ATP when a protonmotive force is imposed. This completion of translocation is retarded by a factor of greater than 3 in deuterium oxide relative to water, demonstrating that translocation involves proton-transfer reactions in rate-limiting steps.