Practical work is often noted as a core reason many students take on science in secondary schools (high schools). However, there are inherent difficulties associated with classroom practical work that militate against scientific inquiry, an approach espoused by many science educators. The use of interactive simulations to facilitate student inquiry has emerged as a complement to practical work. This study presents case studies of four science teachers using a virtual chemistry laboratory (VCL) with their students in an explicitly guided inquiry manner. Research tools included the use of the Inquiry Science Implementation Scale in a 'talk-aloud' manner, Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol for video observations, and teacher interviews. The findings suggest key aspects of practical work that hinder teachers in adequately supporting inquiry and highlight where a VCL can overcome many of these difficulties. The findings also indicate considerations in using the VCL in its own right.