We describe here a sub-family of enzymes related both structurally and functionally to N-acetylneuraminate lyase. Two members of this family (N-acetylneuraminate lyase and dihydrodipicolinate synthase) have known three-dimensional structures and we now proceed to show their structural and functional relationship to two further proteins, trans-o-hydroxybenzylidenepyruvate hydratase-aldolase and D-4-deoxy-5-oxoglucarate dehydratase. These enzymes are all thought to involve intermediate Schiff-base formation with their respective substrates. In order to understand the nature of this intermediate, we have determined the three-dimensional structure of N-acetylneuraminate lyase in complex with hydroxypyruvate (a product analogue) and in complex with one of its products (pyruvate). From these structures we deduce the presence of a closely similar Schiff-base forming motif in all members of the N-acetylneuraminate lyase sub-family. A fifth protein, MosA, is also confirmed to be a member of the sub-family although the involvement of an intermediate Schiff-base in its proposed reaction is unclear.