Acyldepsipeptides (ADEPs) antibiotics bind to Escherichia coliClpP mimicking the interactions that the IGL/F loops in ClpA or ClpX ATPases establish with the hydrophobic pockets surrounding the axial pore of the tetradecamer that the protease forms. ADEP binding induces opening of the gates blocking the axial channel of ClpP and allowing protein substrates to be translocated and hydrolysed in the degradation chamber. To identify the structural determinants stabilizing the open conformation of the axial channel for efficient substrate translocation, we constructed ClpP variants with amino acid substitutions in the N-terminal region that forms the axial gates. We found that adoption of a β-hairpin loop by this region and the integrity of the hydrophobic cluster at the base of this loop are necessary elements for the axial gate to efficiently translocate protein substrates. Analysis of ClpP variants from Bacillus subtilis suggested that the identified structural requirements of the axial channel for efficient translocation are conserved between Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. These findings provide mechanistic insights into the activation of ClpP by ADEPs as well as the gating mechanism of the protease in the context of the ClpAP and ClpXP complexes.