‘A’-esterase activities (substrates paraoxon and pirimiphos-methyloxon) and arylesterase activities (substrate phenyl acetate) were assayed in the sera of 14 species of birds representing seven different orders and 11 species of mammal representing five different orders. Ten species of birds had no detectable ‘A’-esterase, and the remaining four species only low activity, yet all birds showed considerable arylesterase activity (16.8-99.3 mumol/min per ml of serum). Ten species of mammal showed both ‘A’- and ‘aryl’-esterase activities. In humans, gel filtration of serum completely separated peaks representing paraoxonase and arylesterase activities. Thus, in both birds and humans, serum enzymes exist that express arylesterase activity but not ‘A’-esterase activity. These findings suggest that a distinction should be made between these two types of esterase in future classifications.

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