The major sessility-motility lifestyle change and additional fundamental aspects of bacterial physiology, behaviour and morphology are regulated by the secondary messenger cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP). Although the c-di-GMP metabolizing enzymes and many receptors have been readily characterized upon discovery, the HD-GYP domain c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase family remained underinvestigated. In this issue of Molecular Microbiology, Bellini et al. provide an important step towards functional and structural characterization of the previously neglected HD-GYP domain family by resolving the crystal structure of PmGH, a catalytically active family member from the thermophilic bacterium Persephonella marina. The crystal structure revealed a novel tri-nuclear catalytic iron centre involved in c-di-GMP binding and catalysis and provides the structural basis to subsequently characterize in detail the catalytic mechanism of hydrolysis of c-di-GMP to GMP by HD-GYP domains.