The chloroplast ATP synthase catalyzes the light-driven synthesis of ATP and acts as a key feedback regulatory component of photosynthesis. Arabidopsis possesses two homologues of the regulatory γ subunit of the ATP synthase, encoded by the ATPC1 and ATPC2 genes. Using a series of mutants, we show that both these subunits can support photosynthetic ATP synthesis in vivo with similar specific activities, but that in wild-type plants, only γ(1) is involved in ATP synthesis in photosynthesis. The γ(1)-containing ATP synthase shows classical light-induced redox regulation, whereas the mutant expressing only γ(2)-ATP synthase (gamma exchange-revised ATP synthase, gamera) shows equally high ATP synthase activity in the light and dark. In situ redox titrations demonstrate that the regulatory thiol groups on γ(2)-ATP synthase remain reduced under physiological conditions but can be oxidized by the strong oxidant diamide, implying that the redox potential for the thiol/disulphide transition in γ(2) is substantially higher than that for γ(1). This regulatory difference may be attributed to alterations in the residues near the redox-active thiols. We propose that γ(2)-ATP synthase functions to catalyze ATP hydrolysis-driven proton translocation in nonphotosynthetic plastids, maintaining a sufficient transthylakoid proton gradient to drive protein translocation or other processes. Consistent with this interpretation, ATPC2 is predominantly expressed in the root, whereas modifying its expression results in alteration of root hair development. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that γ(2) originated from ancient gene duplication, resulting in divergent evolution of functionally distinct ATP synthase complexes in dicots and mosses.