Organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) are ubiquitous in the environment and are highly toxic to amphibians. They deactivate cholinesterase, resulting in neurological dysfunction. Most chemicals in this group require oxidative desulfuration to achieve their greatest cholinesterase-inhibiting potencies. Oxon derivatives are formed within liver cells but also by bacterial decay of parental pesticides. This study examines the toxicity of chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon and their oxons on the foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii). R. boylii is exposed to agricultural pesticides in the California Central Valley. Median lethal concentrations of the parental forms during a 96 h exposure were 3.00 mg/L (24 h) for chlorpyrifos, 2.14 mg/L for malathion and 7.49 mg/L for diazinon. Corresponding oxons were 10 to 100 times more toxic than their parental forms. We conclude that environmental concentrations of these pesticides can be harmful to R. boylii populations. ?? 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.