Electronic transport mechanisms in molecular junctions are investigated by a combination of first-principles calculations and current−voltage measurements of several well-characterized structures. We study self-assembled layers of alkanethiols grown on Au(111) and form tunnel junctions by contacting the molecular layers with the tip of a conductive force microscope. Measurements done under low-load conditions permit us to obtain reliable tilt-angle and molecular length dependencies of the low-bias conductance through the alkanethiol layers. The observed dependence on tilt-angle is stronger for the longer molecular chains. Our calculations confirm the observed trends and explain them as a result of two mechanisms, namely, a previously proposed intermolecular tunneling enhancement as well as a hitherto overlooked tilt-dependent molecular gate effect.