The present invention provides aryl- or heteroaryl-diketo acid compounds effective to inhibit an activity of a Mycobacterial malate synthase enzyme or to inhibit a malate synthase activity in other bacteria having the enzyme. The compounds may be phenyl- naphthyl-, or thienyl-substituted diketo acids and carboxylate derivatives thereof. Also provided are methods of treating tuberculosis or other pathophysiological conditions associated with a malate synthase enzyme with the inhibitory compounds and methods of in silico design of the inhibitory compounds. In addition, the present invention provides the inhibitory compounds designed by this method. Furthermore, three-dimensional X-ray crystal structures of the Mycobacterial malate synthase complexed with the inhibitory compounds are provided. Further still a method for stabilizing an aromatic or heteroaromatic diketo acid or its prodrug or close analog in solution by derivatizing at least the ortho position on the aromatic ring is provided.