Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is unique among ion channels in that after its phosphorylation by protein kinase A (PKA), its ATP-dependent gating violates microscopic reversibility caused by the intimate involvement of ATP hydrolysis in controlling channel closure. Recent studies suggest a gating model featuring an energetic coupling between opening and closing of the gate in CFTR's transmembrane domains and association and dissociation of its two nucleotide-binding domains (NBDs). We found that permeant ions such as nitrate can increase the open probability (Po) of wild-type (WT) CFTR by increasing the opening rate and decreasing the closing rate. Nearly identical effects were seen with a construct in which activity does not require phosphorylation of the regulatory domain, indicating that nitrate primarily affects ATP-dependent gating steps rather than PKA-dependent phosphorylation. Surprisingly, the effects of nitrate on CFTR gating are remarkably similar to those of VX-770 (N-(2,4-Di-tert-butyl-5-hydroxyphenyl)-4-oxo-1,4-dihydroquinoline-3-carboxamide), a potent CFTR potentiator used in clinics. These include effects on single-channel kinetics of WT CFTR, deceleration of the nonhydrolytic closing rate, and potentiation of the Po of the disease-associated mutant G551D. In addition, both VX-770 and nitrate increased the activity of a CFTR construct lacking NBD2 (ΔNBD2), indicating that these gating effects are independent of NBD dimerization. Nonetheless, whereas VX-770 is equally effective when applied from either side of the membrane, nitrate potentiates gating mainly from the cytoplasmic side, implicating a common mechanism for gating modulation mediated through two separate sites of action.