ONC201 is a first-in-class imipridone molecule currently in clinical trials for the treatment of multiple cancers. Despite enormous clinical potential, the mechanism of action is controversial. To investigate the mechanism of ONC201 and identify compounds with improved potency, we tested a series of novel ONC201 analogues (TR compounds) for effects on cell viability and stress responses in breast and other cancer models. The TR compounds were found to be ∼50-100 times more potent at inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing the integrated stress response protein ATF4 than ONC201. Using immobilized TR compounds, we identified the human mitochondrial caseinolytic protease P (ClpP) as a specific binding protein by mass spectrometry. Affinity chromatography/drug competition assays showed that the TR compounds bound ClpP with ∼10-fold higher affinity compared to ONC201. Importantly, we found that the peptidase activity of recombinant ClpP was strongly activated by ONC201 and the TR compounds in a dose- and time-dependent manner with the TR compounds displaying a ∼10-100 fold increase in potency over ONC201. Finally, siRNA knockdown of ClpP in SUM159 cells reduced the response to ONC201 and the TR compounds, including induction of CHOP, loss of the mitochondrial proteins (TFAM, TUFM), and the cytostatic effects of these compounds. Thus, we report that ClpP directly binds ONC201 and the related TR compounds and is an important biological target for this class of molecules. Moreover, these studies provide, for the first time, a biochemical basis for the difference in efficacy between ONC201 and the TR compounds.