BACKGROUND: Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) have received considerable attention in insects for their roles in insecticide resistance. Laodelphax striatellus (Fallén) is a serious rice pest. L. striatellus outbreaks occur frequently throughout eastern Asia. A key problem in controlling this pest is its rapid adaptation to numerous insecticides. In this research, nine cDNAs encoding GSTs in L. striatellus were cloned and characterised. RESULTS: The cloned GSTs of L. striatellus belonged to six cytosolic classes and a microsomal subgroup. Exposure to sublethal concentrations of each of the six insecticides, DDT, chlorpyrifos, fipronil, imidacloprid, buprofezin and beta-cypermethrin, quickly induced (6 h) up-expression of LsGSTe1. The expression of LsGSTs2 was increased by chlorpyrifos, fipronil and beta-cypermethrin. Furthermore, exposure of L. striatellus to fipronil, imidacloprid, buprofezin and beta-cypermethrin increased the expression of the LsGSTm gene after 24 or 48 h. CONCLUSION: This work is the first identification of GST genes from different GST groups in Auchenorrhyncha species and their induction characteristics with insecticide types and time. The elevated expression of GST genes induced by insecticides might be related to the enhanced tolerance of this insect to insecticides and xenobiotics.