The sensitivity of neurons from the honey bee olfactory system to pyrethroid insecticides was studied using the patch-clamp technique on central 'antennal lobe neurons' (ALNs) in cell culture. In these neurons, the voltage-dependent sodium currents are characterized by negative potential for activation, fast kinetics of activation and inactivation, and the presence of cumulative inactivation during train of depolarizations. Perfusion of pyrethroids on these ALN neurons submitted to repetitive stimulations induced (1) an acceleration of cumulative inactivation, and (2) a marked slowing of the tail current recorded upon repolarization. Cypermethrin and permethrin accelerated cumulative inactivation of the sodium current peak in a similar manner and tetramethrin was even more effective. The slow-down of channel deactivation was markedly dependent on the type of pyrethroid. With cypermethrin, a progressive increase of the tail current amplitude along with successive stimulations reveals a traditionally described use-dependent recruitment of modified sodium channels. However, an unexpected decrease in this tail current was revealed with tetramethrin. If one considers the calculated percentage of modified channels as an index of pyrethroids effects, ALNs are significantly more susceptible to tetramethrin than to permethrin or cypermethrin for a single depolarization, but this difference attenuates with repetitive activity. Further comparison with peripheral neurons from antennae suggest that these modifications are neuron type specific. Modeling the sodium channel as a multi-state channel with fast and slow inactivation allows to underline the effects of pyrethroids on a set of rate constants connecting open and inactivated conformations, and give some insights to their specificity. Altogether, our results revealed a differential sensitivity of central olfactory neurons to pyrethroids that emphasize the ability for these compounds to impair detection and processing of information at several levels of the bees olfactory pathway.