Abstract Six to seven esterases from mouse, rat, and rabbit liver microsomes were resolved by chromatofocusing in the pH range 7–4. Each esterase peak showed a different substrate specificity pattern with the substrates evaluated. Malathion and paraoxon hydrolysis always corresponded with p-nitrophenyl acetate and methylthiobutyrate hydrolysis, whereas the pattern of fenvalerate hydrolysis was more complicated. Phosphorotriester hydrolase activity was isolated, and was found to be more specific toward paraoxon than toward the other insecticides. Time-course studies of paraoxon hydrolysis indicated that the hydrolysis of paraoxon by carboxylesterase was an inhibitory reaction. This reaction and phosphorotriester hydrolase activity can serve as a detoxication reaction toward organophosphate insecticides.