Once experimentally prohibitive, structural studies of individual missense variants in proteins are increasingly feasible, and can provide a new level of insight into human genetic disease. One example of this is the recently identified inborn error of metabolism known as phosphoglucomutase-1 (PGM1) deficiency. Just as different variants of a protein can produce different patient phenotypes, they may also produce distinct biochemical phenotypes, affecting properties such as catalytic activity, protein stability, or 3D structure/dynamics. Experimental studies of missense variants, and particularly structural characterization, can reveal details of the underlying biochemical pathomechanisms of missense variants. Here, we review four examples of enzyme dysfunction observed in disease-related variants of PGM1. These studies are based on 11 crystal structures of wild-type (WT) and mutant enzymes, and multiple biochemical assays. Lessons learned include the value of comparing mutant and WT structures, synergy between structural and biochemical studies, and the rich understanding of molecular pathomechanism provided by experimental characterization relative to the use of predictive algorithms. We further note functional insights into the WT enzyme that can be gained from the study of pathogenic variants. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.