Anti-apoptotic Bcl2 family proteins such as Bcl-x(L) protect cells from death by sequestering apoptotic molecules, but also contribute to normal neuronal function. We find in hippocampal neurons that Bcl-x(L) enhances the efficiency of energy metabolism. Our evidence indicates that Bcl-x(L)interacts directly with the ?-subunit of the F(1)F(O) ATP synthase, decreasing an ion leak within the F(1)F(O) ATPase complex and thereby increasing net transport of H(+) by F(1)F(O) during F(1)F(O) ATPase activity. By patch clamping submitochondrial vesicles enriched in F(1)F(O) ATP synthase complexes, we find that, in the presence of ATP, pharmacological or genetic inhibition of Bcl-x(L) activity increases the membrane leak conductance. In addition, recombinant Bcl-x(L) protein directly increases the level of ATPase activity of purified synthase complexes, and inhibition of endogenous Bcl-x(L) decreases the level of F(1)F(O) enzymatic activity. Our findings indicate that increased mitochondrial efficiency contributes to the enhanced synaptic efficacy found in Bcl-x(L)-expressing neurons.