Structural analogs of the substrate oxalacetate were examined as potential substrates and inhibitors for chicken liver mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate (P-enolpyruvate) carboxykinase. Steady-state kinetics were employed to characterize the inhibitory effects of these substrate analogs with the enzyme. Assays were carried out in both carboxylation and decarboxylation reaction directions. Pyruvate, beta-hydroxypyruvate, beta-mercaptopyruvate, beta-fluoropyruvate, DL-lactate, glycolate, glycoaldehyde, glyoxylate, glyphosate, and DL-aspartate showed no inhibitory effects by steady-state kinetics. Oxalate, acetopyruvate, and DL-, D-, and L-glycerate exhibited weak noncompetitive inhibition of the P-enolpyruvate carboxykinase-catalyzed reaction. DL-3-Nitro-2-hydroxypropionic acid, 3-nitro-2-oxopropionic acid, DL-malate, malonate, tartronate, and alpha-ketobutyrate all show weak inhibition with estimated inhibition constants greater than 20 nM. Several of these compounds were investigated by 31P NMR to determine if they function as phosphoryl acceptors for GTP. None of the compounds tested act as phosphoryl acceptors in the enzyme-catalyzed reaction. Chicken liver mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase shows a remarkably high degree of specificity at the binding site of oxalacetate.