PA-824 is an experimental anti-tubercular agent that has a novel mechanism of action. It is effective against both active and persistent forms of the disease and has recently shown early bactericidal activity in a Phase II clinical trial. This review summarizes recent studies on the mode of action of PA-824 and outlines successful efforts to prepare more effective second-generation analogs. PA-824 displays unusual chemistry following both enzymatic and radiolytic reduction, which is clearly related to its activity as an anti-tubercular agent. The nitroreductase enzyme deazaflavin-dependent nitroreductase, reduces PA-824 with loss of the nitro group, generating reactive nitrogen species such as nitric oxide, which appear important in mediating the activity of the drug. Bioreductive drugs such as PA-824 hold the promise of shorter treatment regimens.