Mannosyl-3-phosphoglycerate phosphatase (MpgP) is a key mediator in the physiological response to thermal and osmotic stresses, catalyzing the hydrolysis of mannosyl-3-phosphoglycerate (MPG) to the final product, a-mannosylglycerate. MpgP is a metal-dependent haloalcanoic acid dehalogenase-like (HAD-like) phosphatase, preserving the catalytic motifs I TV of the HAD core domain, and classified as a Cof-type MPGP (HAD-IIB-MPGP family; SCOP ) on the basis of its C2B cap insertion module. Herein, the crystallographic structures of Therms thermophilus HB27 MpgP in its apo form and in complex with substrates, substrate analogues, and inhibitors are reported. Two distinct enzyme conformations, open and closed, are catalytically relevant. Apo-MpgP is primarily found in the open state, while holo-MpgP, in complex with the reaction products, is found in the dosed state. Enzyme activation entails a structural rearrangement of motifs I and IV with concomitant binding of the cocatalytic Mg(2+) ion. The closure motion of the C2B domain is subsequently triggered by the anchoring of the phosphoryl group to the cocatalytic metal center, and by Arg167 fixing the mannosyl moiety inside the catalytic pocket. The results led to the proposal that in T. thermophilus HB27 MpgP the phosphoryl transfer employs a concerted D(N)S(N) mechanism with assistance of proton transfer from the general acid Asp8, forming a short-lived PO(3)(-) intermediate that is attacked by a nucleophilic water molecule. These results provide new insights into a possible continuum of phosphoryl transfer mechanisms, ranging between those purely associative and dissociative, as well as a picture of the main mechanistic aspects of phosphoryl monoester transfer catalysis, common to other members of the HAD superfamily.