Activity of nonspecific esterase from different tissues (i.e., liver, gallbladder, heart, intestine, and muscle) of five species of freshwater fish, namely, topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva), goldfish (Carassius auratus), nile tilapia (Tilapia nilotica), mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), and rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri) was tested using alpha-naphthyl acetate as substrate. The results indicated that activity of the enzyme was mainly concentrated in the digestive system (i.e., intestine, liver, bile). The overall activity was highest in nile tilapia, followed by mosquitofish, topmouth gudgeon, goldfish, and lowest in rainbow trout. Electrophoresis and the following in vitro treatment of the isoenzymes with triphenol phosphate (TPP, an inhibitor of carboxylesterase) indicated the TPP-sensitive esterase was mainly distributed in liver of the five species. The enzyme was not found in the other five tissues (including gill) except in gallbladder of topmouth gudgeon and goldfish. The correlation was obviously improved between susceptibility and detoxification capacity if activity of the TPP-sensitive esterase was employed instead of that of the nonspecific esterase to make the comparison. In vitro treatment of nonspecific esterase in liver with malaoxon proved that the active metabolite of malathion inhibited a different isoenzyme from the TPP-sensitive one.