F(0)F(1)-ATP synthase couples ATP synthesis/hydrolysis with transmembrane proton transport. The catalytic mechanism involves rotation of the gamma epsilon c(approximately 10)-subunits complex relative to the rest of the enzyme. In the absence of protonmotive force the enzyme is inactivated by the tight binding of MgADP. Subunit epsilon also modulates the activity: its conformation can change from a contracted to extended form with C-terminus stretched towards F(1). The latter form inhibits ATP hydrolysis (but not synthesis). We propose that the directionality of the coiled-coil subunit gamma rotation determines whether subunit epsilon is in contracted or extended form. Block of rotation by MgADP presumably induces the extended conformation of subunit epsilon. This conformation might serve as a safety lock, stabilizing the ADP-inhibited state upon de-energization and preventing spontaneous re-activation and wasteful ATP hydrolysis. The hypothesis merges the known regulatory effects of ADP, protonmotive force and conformational changes of subunit epsilon into a consistent picture.