Topical bioassays using propoxur, chlorpyrifos, and lambda-cyhalothrin were conducted on eight cockroach species. Based on lethal dose values, the relative toxicities of the insecticide classes were generally pyrethroid > carbamate > organophosphorous. Lambda-Cyhalothrin and propoxur were more toxic toward the Blattidae as compared with the Blattellidae. The order of lambda-cyhalothrin toxicity was Periplaneta americana > Periplaneta brunnea = Periplaneta australasiae = Periplaneta fuliginosa = Blatta orientalis > Blattella asahinai = Blattella germanica > Blattella vaga. The order of propoxur toxicity was B. orientalis > P. americana > P. brunnea = P. australasiae > B. asahinai > P. fuliginosa = B. germanica > B. vaga. The order of chlorpyrifos toxicity was P. americana > B. asahinai = B. vaga > B. orientalis = P. australasiae = P. brunnea > B. germanica = P. fuliginosa. Detoxification enzyme activities for each species also were measured and compared with insecticide toxicity. Propoxur LD50 was significantly (P = 0.01; r = 0.81) correlated with glutathione S-transferase activity. Lambda-Cyhalothrin LD50 correlated with methoxyresorufin O-demethylase activity (P = 0.01; r = 0.81), carboxylesterase activity (P = 0.03; r = - 0.75), general esterase activity (P = 0.02; r = - 0.79), and cockroach weight (P = 0.01; r = -0.95).